Lessons Learned In a Very Tough Market

  • Written by Submitted by Shannon Woodcock, Cascade Team

It has been a rough ride the last four years for Woodinville home sellers and indeed home sellers all across the country.  All you need to do is pick up a newspaper, read a blog or talk to a neighbor whose home is/was on the market; the news wasn’t good. Prices were dropping quickly, loans were hard to get, inventory was high and buyer confidence was shaken due to the sharp turn in the housing industry.

We have all heard the stories of the nightmare short sales, foreclosures and loss of value that most homeowners have faced and are still facing.  As a real estate broker, it has been nothing short of heart breaking to work with sellers faced with losing their home or with the prospect of losing an enormous portion of their retirement.

The amazing lesson that has emerged for me as a real estate broker working with dozens of struggling sellers and buyers (yes, buyers!)  has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. That lesson is just the real estate version of one of life’s most important lessons: “It’s not what happens to you. It’s how you handle what happens to you.” I continually come across very brave people trying to make hard decisions about what to do in this market.  The fortitude and grace with which people have handled this real estate nightmare has amazed me over and over again. I have worked with sellers who have employed a research-based approach to the financial “downturn.”  They have chosen to study the market, investigate their options and ask excellent questions as they formulate a plan. I have had clients who have gone through short sales, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, keeping their sense of humor and reminding anyone who laments their loss that if they still have their health and their kids are happy, then it is all good! One particularly wonderful couple in their 50s whom I worked with to short sell their home said with a hearty laugh, when asked how they were doing, “Oh, we are doing great! It’s like we are newlyweds again with no money and living in a rental.”

I have worked with buyers who have brought great humanity to this market.  The perception during the downturn has often been how fortunate the buyers are, and in many cases that is true.  But there are the instances where I have, again, been so moved by my buyers who have displayed such empathy for sellers who have lost their home.

One couple misted up when they saw a room that had been joyfully painted pink with a girl’s name stenciled on the wall. I have worked with buyers who have invested in homes with years of deferred maintenance: failing septics, rotting roofs, homes stripped of all the light fixtures.  And they have said to me, “I love Woodinville so much; I just want to live here, even if the home is in massive need of repair, and I’m not sure how much it will ultimately cost.”

They are going into the “great unknown” as they try to breathe life (and money) into these distressed homes and make the neighborhood proud again.

And along the way, I have come across outstanding fellow brokers who will do anything for their clients.  I have enjoyed putting my head together with these colleagues to work to come up with creative win-win solutions for our clients.  I have found myself and cooperating brokers trying to keep a sense of humor as we navigate the less-than-logical systems banks have created to close a short sale.

In the last few weeks, a funny thing has happened: Headlines are saying the market is back, fueled by four years of depressed prices, current historically-low interest rates, and low inventory of homes.

We are seeing multiple offers and even prices notching-up in some segments of the market.  Hold on! The market is changing again as it always does.  But I won’t soon forget the lessons from the last four years of how great people can be in the face of adversity.

Circus arts are the focus at Camp ZinZanni

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Zinzanni one
“Acrobalance is a combination of acrobatics and balance with an introduction to the aerial arts and other gravity defying acts.” Courtesy photo
Summer camps abound in this region and serve as a great opportunity for children to discover an interest or enhance an existing passion.

The offerings are numerous, from arts-based programs and outdoor recreational adventures to science explorations and computer/tech classes.

There’s even a camp for kids who dream of running away to join the circus.

Camp ZinZanni, which is operated through the ZinZanni Institute for Circus Arts (ZICA) in Seattle, is the perfect place for those with a penchant for the circus arts.

Four years ago, ZICA began the camp with one week-long session.

Today, it operates 10 summer camps, as well as programs during mid-winter and spring breaks.

For the young’uns, there’s “Clown School Mini Camp,” which introduces the 4- to 5-year-old set to circus techniques with an emphasis on the five senses, movement, hand/eye coordination and balance.

Participants also get to try their hand at clown makeup and costuming. Those ages 5 to 8 are eligible for “Junior Clown Camp,” where they can focus their energy on learning clown routines and basic slapstick.

Also for this age group is “Junior Jugglers,” a class that gives campers the basics of object manipulation using scarves, juggling balls, yoyos, ribbons and hats.

Zinzanni two
Classes are taught under Teatro ZinZanni’s big tent by professional instructors, Courtesy photo.
And for future magicians, there’s “ABC’s of Abracadabra.”

If you have a child in grades 2 to 4 with an interest in science, “Circus Science” will teach him/her how to apply the science of the circus to clowning, magic and balancing skills.

Offered in partnership with Pacific Science Center, the program provides opportunities for participants to test physics as they master their center of gravity and experiment with inertia, motion, momentum and balance.

Campers spend half the day at PSC and the other half at Teatro ZinZanni.

The art of comedy, from Charlie Chaplin to John Cleese and Lucille Ball, is explored in “Comedy Camp: Slapstick & Clowning.”

A teaching artist from Teatro ZinZanni teaches the moves, while an acting teacher from Seattle Children’s Theatre helps the kids discover and integrate the characters, relationship, objectives and setting of the scene.

There are also camps geared specially toward middle schoolers and teens like “Acrobalance” and “All the World’s a Tent.”

“Acrobalance is our most popular camp,” notes Nadia Tarnawsky, head of operations for Camp ZinZanni and events and education manager. “It’s a combination of acrobatics and balance with an introduction to the aerial arts and other gravity defying acts. I think the kids really enjoy this program because it’s so closely aligned to what a true circus is in their minds.”

In “All the World’s a Tent,” participants spend an intensive week with the artists and instructors of Teatro ZinZanni and Seattle Shakespeare Company learning to apply their acting and circus skills to the Bard’s text.

Each week-long camp session meets from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the exception of the “Clown School Mini Camp which meets from 9 – 11:30 a.m.

Classes are taught under Teatro ZinZanni’s big tent by professional instructors, who are accompanied by several camp counselors who serve as teaching assistants.

“Our instructors are actual performers,” explains Tarnowsky. “We like to have current performers from our Teatro ZinZanni production on our teaching staff. And they also perform for the campers during the sessions.”

Campers get the chance to strut their stuff, too, during an open class for family and friends on the last day of each session.

Tarnowsky attributes the continued popularity of the camps to the lure of the circus and the ability of the program to make the circus arts accessible to kids of all ages.

“You’d be amazed at what they can do after only a week of instruction,” she says. “And no matter what skill level they’re at, they find their own talents and succeed.”

For more information about Camp ZinZanni, call  (206) 802-0011, ext. 7238 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The King is back!

  • Written by Deborah Stone
King Tutankhamun’s funerary figure. Photo courtesy of the Tut exhibit
It’s been 34 years since King Tut visited Seattle.

At that time, 1.3 million people viewed the blockbuster exhibit, which made a major impact on the city and undeniably left a memorable impression on all those who had the opportunity to feast their eyes on the incredible array of cultural treasures.

Now, back for its final North American showing, “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” is ready to wow a whole new generation.

The exhibition, which recently opened at Pacific Science Center after months of preparation, renovation and anticipation, is more than double the size of the original exhibit that toured in the 1970s.

It features nearly 150 artifacts from King Tut’s tomb and ancient sites representing some of the most important rulers throughout 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history.

Many of the objects haven’t toured in the U.S. before and after the show closes at the beginning of 2013, they will never be seen again in this country.

Pacific Science Center is hosting the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition as part of its 50th anniversary celebration and expects it to be extremely popular, not only with local residents, but with individuals from all over the region.

The exhibit consists of 10 galleries, chockfull of wondrous artifacts that tell a captivating story ending with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by British explorer Howard Carter.

Visitors are transported back in time as they come face to face with statues of the pharaohs from the Middle and New Kingdoms.

In “Pharaoh’s Court,” the 10-foot-tall figure of King Tut, found at the remains of the funerary temple of two of his high officials, is an imposing sight.

Another gallery, “Pharaoh’s Religion and Gods,” contains statues of some of the hundreds and hundreds of deities, whose images came from the Egyptian environment, including the well-known Osiris, ruler of the underworld.

“Pharaoh’s Gold” has perhaps the most dazzling items on display, including gold collars, cups, vases, necklaces and masks.

An extraordinary gold death mask that covered the head and chest of the mummy of King Psusennes I takes center stage.

It is interesting to note that gold, glittering and enduring, was believed by the Egyptians to be comprised of the skin of their gods.

The latter part of the exhibition focuses on the discovery of the tomb, an event that shook the world, as no one thought there was anything left to find in the Valley of the Kings.

But, on November 4, 1922, Howard Carter came across the first of 16 steps of a carved stairway that led to a corridor and ended at a sealed doorway.

Tut's sandals
King Tut’s golden sandals. Photo courtesy of Tut exhibit
Beyond, lay the final resting place of the boy king.

Carter unearthed 5,000 objects in the ensuing ten years within the four rooms of the tomb: antechamber, annex, treasury and burial chamber.

There is a gallery devoted to each of these rooms in the exhibition with a host of eye-ogling artifacts.

In the antechamber, one of Tut’s seven beds can be seen, along with some of his jewelry and a Cartouche-shaped box with his name on it.

The annex contains such pieces as one of Tut’s chairs, a wooden game box with all of its pieces intact and several limestone and quartzite Shabtis or funerary figures, which were used to replace the pharaoh in the afterlife when the call came for forced labor.

A model of a wooden boat is on display in the treasury gallery. Carter found 35 ship models in the tomb, each of which was believed to magically become full-sized and functional in the afterlife.

The burial chamber, which tells the story of Carter revealing the mummy, is where you’ll find the famous golden sandals that covered Tut’s feet.

They are decorated to look like woven reeds and were created specifically for the afterlife.

A striking cobra collar of gold, which was found on the thorax of the mummy, is also of note, along with a beautiful fan made of ebony, wood, gold and glass.

DNA studies from 2010 now reveal that the boy king, who died at a young age, had necrosis, a bone disease in his foot.

Additionally, he suffered from malaria.

Both conditions may have contributed to his early demise, which subsequently led to his hasty burial in a small, unadorned tomb.Scholars claim that for the Egyptians, Tut did not exist.

No funerary cult was created to keep his memory alive, yet it is his tiny tomb, his banned name and his buried treasures that are the first to come to mind when people hear of Egypt’s pharaohs.Ironically, Tut, unlike any other king, attained an eternal afterlife. And his memory continues to live on.

“Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs” runs through January 6, 2013, at Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

Two related documentary IMAX films will play during the run of the exhibition: “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs” and “Mysteries of Egypt.”

Additionally, PSC is presenting a special lecture series at Town Hall this fall, featuring internationally renowned scholars who will share their expertise and discoveries about Egyptian art and archaeology.

For exhibit and ticket information:

Local libraries to offer free workshops for job seekers

  • Written by Deborah Stone
During these challenging economic times, securing gainful employment can be a struggle.

Whether you’re new to the workforce, returning to it after a hiatus or in the midst of a midlife career change, knowledge of effective job search strategies is essential.

The King County Library System, in partnership with WorkSource and South Seattle Community College WorkSource, wants to help.

Once again, these organizations are offering a series of free programs at local libraries aimed at providing assistance to job seekers of all ages.

“We started doing this in 2010,” explains Jeff Kempe, adult services coordinator for the King County Library System. “The series has run every spring and fall and the sessions have been very well received and attended.”

He notes that on average the sessions attract about a dozen participants, but some have had as high as 50, depending on the site and subject.

In “The New Job Search in the New Economy,” for example, participants learn how to shift their approach to match the current employment environment with topics to include adjusting to the reality of the contemporary labor market, developing a work plan for a successful job search, networking, fundamentals of preparing a resume, where to find free quality career counseling, information on the top paying professions, acing the job interview and where to find other job search resources.

To craft a resume that will get past the “10 second screen,” there’s Effective Resumes for the New Job Search,” a hands-on workshop that uncovers the keys to a successful resume.

Those interested in learning more about networking will find “Effective Networking for Employment” chockfull of useful information regarding ways to develop a network “system,” the four core elements of networking information exchange, commonalties and relationships.

To make the most of your interview session, there’s “Conducting Effective Interview Conversations in the New Economy,” a program designed to enhance interview preparation and performance.

The session will focus on answering behavior-based questions, connecting your values with the company culture and employing marketing skills to make a great first impression.

In “Mid-life Career Changing in the New Economy,” experts analyze and discuss the problem of “Ageism,” delving into how age discrimination affects the job search and what you can do to empower yourself and find meaningful work in this difficult employment market.

Special attention is paid to mid-life career changes and the use of technology as a job search tool.

Workshops are led by a panel of presenters to include Duncan G. Burgess, director of WorkSource Affiliate at South Seattle Community College; Tanner Phillips, employment and training specialist for WorkSource Affiliate of South Seattle Community College and Paco Mesch, Workforce coordinator for South Seattle Community College.

In addition to the WorkSource programs, Kempe also notes that the King County Library System’s “Look to Your Library” is a great resource site for job seekers, as well as for those in need of financial tools.

“Our guide has been visited over 4,500 times this year,” he says. “In addition, we offer a service called Adult Career Center, through which library card holders can submit their resumes online for review from 2 p.m. – midnight, seven days a week. And last October, we began hosting job clubs within our system. The Renton Library Job Club, which is run by Willie Gregory from Renton WorkSource, has grown to 15 members and serves as a model for what we want to accomplish with the other groups. We recently started one in Bothell.” He adds, “It’s all about meeting a community need.”

Upcoming WorkSource Programs at Woodinville Library will be held on June 6 (“The New Job Search in the New Economy”), June 13 (“Effective Resumes for the New Job Search”), June 20 (“Conducting Effective Interview Conversations in the New Economy”), June 26 (“Effective Networking for Employment”) and June 27 (“Mid-life Career Changing in the New Economy”).

For more information, contact the Woodinville Library at (425) 788-0733.

A warm heart and a passion for helping leads to Sparkle Club at TJH

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Peer Coach
Kamy Quackenbush, a 9th grade peer coach, is pictured in the middle of the group of special needs students who participate in the Sparkle Club that Quackenbush started.
Kamy Quackenbush is an outgoing teen with a large social circle. Among her many friends are several kids with special needs, who she met while working as a ninth grade peer coach at Timbercrest Junior High.Quackenbush will tell you that she doesn’t differentiate when it comes to any of her friends.

She says, “Friends are friends to me. Everyone is unique and we all have our challenges, but we’re all basically typical teenagers who just like to hang out with each other and have fun.”

As a peer coach, the teen, under the supervision of TJH teacher Brandi Doyle, accompanied students from Doyle’s functional skills and academic program to P.E. and drama classes. There, she helped them to participate in class activities, as well as assisted in facilitating their interaction with the other students.

“Being a peer coach is so much fun,” comments Quackenbush. “I did it because I basically wanted to make new friends. That was really my main motivation.” She adds, “As a peer coach, you don’t act or pretend to be a teacher or anything like that. The best way I can explain it is that you’re a friend who’s just helping a friend.”

Prior to her involvement as a peer coach at TJH, the teen had had some experience with individuals with special needs.

In elementary school, she would often socialize and play games with some of the special needs kids during lunch. She also has a great aunt with Down’s syndrome, so she understands the need to exercise patience when interacting with others who have a varying array of mental, physical and/or emotional challenges. “Kamy is a wonderful student,” comments Doyle. “She is kind and caring, and she has an amazing ability to include, explain and encourage my students. She is so selfless, with such a warm heart and her passion for helping goes above and beyond. We celebrate her each day.”

Doyle adds, “In addition to her work as a peer coach, Kamy also started a spirit club here at Timbercrest for both students with disabilities and their peers. Her vision was to include all kids, so she created a proposal for our ASB and formed ‘Sparkle Club.’

Each week, she planned different activities to encourage school spirit and inclusion. It’s been extremely successful because of her dedication and compassion.”

Doyle explains that for most of her students, Sparkle Club is their first club involvement at the school. She notes that they look forward to it each week.

The idea arose when Quackenbush read an article about a school that started a cheer club for girls with special needs. “We don’t have a cheer squad at Timbercrest,” explains the teen, “so I worked with the principal and vice principal here to adapt the idea for our school. I just wanted to make sure we included both girls and boys because there are more boys than girls with special needs at our junior high.”

As the aim of the club was inclusion, Quackenbush made sure to advertise the meetings on the school’s reader board and in the daily announcements in order to get participation from as many kids in the student body as possible. On average, 10 special needs students and an equal number of their peers came to the meetings.

“We played board games, did arts and crafts projects and just hung out with each other,” says the teen. “For example, for Martin Luther King’s birthday, we made clouds and then filled them in with expressions of our dreams. We made maracas for Cinco de Mayo and we also decorated boxes to fill with mementos from our spring break.”

Quackenbush notes that the feedback from participants has been very positive. Both the students with special needs and their peers have expressed how much fun they have had in the club.

She comments, “It’s been a good opportunity for everyone to get to know each other better.”

In the process, Quackenbush gained valuable leadership and organizational skills. But, most importantly, she gained new friends. The teen, who will attend WHS next fall, plans to continue her work as a peer coach. She is hopeful that incoming eighth and ninth graders at TJH will keep the Sparkle Club going and will offer her help to them if needed.

“My two passions in life are drama and working with special populations,” says Quackenbush. “I’d love a career as a professional actor, but I’d also like to be a special ed. teacher and maybe one day create a nonprofit organization for kids with special needs. It would be great if I could do both.”