Tue, 29th Oct '19, 12:45 am::

It's been four weeks since I started homeschooling Naveen. While I had very modest expectations to begin with, I can honestly say that even my wildest expectations would not compare to how great the past month has been. We've been to more museums, libraries, art galleries, parks, and family events in four weeks than the four years since he was born! I had a handful of measurable goals before we started and he has made progress on all of them.

First and foremost was his weight. Having had an unexpectedly large growth spurt earlier this year, his weight was too low compared to his height. In just four weeks, he's gained three solid pounds! Another improvement is his physical endurance. He would often get tired and not have enough energy to run around. I've been taking him on long hikes and regular classes for gymnastics and swimming. Yesterday he swam freestyle over 100m on his own! I learned how to swim at age 11-12 I believe, so that's a pretty solid distance for a kid under 5. I didn't have any academic goals for him but he has started reading science books on his own now, so that's a bonus.

All of his progress aside, the most uncertain aspect of homeschooling was not how well he would do but how well I could manage it. Turns out, I can. I absolutely love it and want more. I look forward to going on our little 'adventures' daily, even if we just go to the neighborhood park. I don't think I've lost much weight but I've definitely increased my walking endurance. Since I still have a lot of stressful 'grownup' things to handle besides the kid, it's not like I'm living a life of peaceful retirement in sunny Florida. But for a working chump like me, it is as close as it can be.

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Positive interactionsThu, 10th Oct '19, 12:20 pm::

There is no better feeling than interacting with people who know what they're doing. I often have to contact companies for help with software issues and usually, that involves creating online tickets, filling out detailed forms, going through multiple levels of customer service tiers until I finally reach someone who knows the software well. Sometimes I never even get that far and just give up. But every now and then, I end up working directly with the person who made the software and it can absolutely make my day.

Many years ago I ended up buying a few licenses for Bvckup2 software for work. Backups are a big deal and I cannot afford to have them fail. Ever. But when you have hundreds of users, computers, and tens of millions of files, backups can be a nightmare. There are a thousand different pieces of software that take files from one computer and put them on another. Every use case has a different tool that works the best. For my case, Bvckup2 beats every alternative. I know this sounds like a paid ad but I'm just a happy customer. I've been getting my daily 'Bvckup2 completed successfully' emails for years now and I could not be more satisfied. However, every now and then it fails because of some new issue. Today it was me trying to backup a single file over 2TB to the cloud. No matter what I tried, the backup software kept erroring out.

So I just emailed Alex, the developer of Bvckup2, shared with him some of the log files, and he emailed me the exact changes I need to make to the configuration to fix the issue. This seems like such a simple problem-troubleshoot-solution process but I cannot even begin to describe how rare such an occurrence is for me. I currently have multiple tickets open with a software documentation company, a payroll processing company, a cloud storage provider, a network security firm, and a ton of smaller IT vendors. I swear if each of these companies had an 'Alex' working for them that I could email, I would save so much time each week.

I hope that whenever people interact with me for IT issues, they get the same experience but of course, for complex issues it is not always possible. So whether it is Alex who writes backup software, or Bud who fixed my leaking pool, it is always a wonderful feeling to work with people who know what they're doing.

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Tue, 8th Oct '19, 11:00 pm::

One week into homeschooling Naveen, I'd say things are going better than I expected. Over the last 7 days, we went to multiple public libraries, museums, art galleries, parks, and a local aquarium. We also worked on a number of minor house projects together and he's gained some much needed weight. The only problem with all of this is... me. I love packing picnic food and planning our daily activities but there's still an annoying voice in the back of my head that says "Why are you chasing butterflies at 10am?! You should be programming!!!"

The weird part about this is that I rarely work at 10am anyway. My schedule for many years has been erratic and I do most of my work in the evenings and weekends. Until last week, most days at 10am, I was either sleeping or slowly waking up. But I would console myself that it's ok, since I worked until 3am. Now that I'm not working insane hours and have a better sleep schedule, not working during daytime feels "wrong" for some reason. I'm hoping it is just a temporary feeling and that pretty soon I will ease into the homeschooling-dad lifestyle.

I've had a lot more time to think lately and that's heightened my desire to write more. Someone suggested earlier today that I should maintain a blog about all of our homeschooling activities but I'm apprehensive. While my parents certainly would like to hear more about the grand-kid shenanigans, I'm hoping to get back to this blog's roots and write about whatever piques my interest. Maybe I could merge the two. On Saturday, we went to Tampa Museum of Art where I talked to Naveen about what art means to me and asked him how he felt when he saw an ancient marble statue or a vibrant painting. I loved that hour or two of us just walking around, speaking out loud our feelings after seeing a piece of art. Sure, it wasn't anything poignant but it was still surprising when I saw a dark city painting and sighed "congestion", he yelled out "skyscrapers!"

I've written here for almost two decades and while things slowed down a bit in the last few years, I feel re-energized to write more once again. Even if I don't end up writing often, wanting to write more, makes me happy. And hopefully, I'll be able to share my happy-little-thoughts with you.

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Adventure awaitsTue, 1st Oct '19, 8:15 am::

It's hard to recall the last time I was at ease with myself. I have been stressed for weeks, months, maybe years now; constantly moving from one list of tasks to another string of projects, with a few vacations in between. Due to the nature of my work, vacations just mean I have to work significantly more before I leave and have a barrage of issues to deal with when I return. It just feels easier handling 50 emails a day than 300 after a few days away. I've known for a while that such a hectic life was not sustainable but didn't have a good vision of what my life would be.

Last month, life presented a challenge, which turned out to be a golden opportunity for me to simplify things. Naveen, now four, has not been adjusting well to the Montessori school environment. We explored many different avenues over the last couple of years but nothing felt right. After countless meetings with his teachers, caretakers, and school administration, I've decided to take things into my own hands, at least for the time being. I'm not qualified to be a teacher or or even a part-time tutor but there's one advantage I have over everyone who has ever tried to manage him for more than a few hours — I totally get him. It's like dealing with a raw concentrate of 50% Juliet, 50% me. He's highly inquisitive, incessantly curious, and defiantly independent. While these sounds like requisite traits for a 30-under-30 entrepreneur profile, preschools don't exactly line up to recruit non-compliant four year olds.

So I've decided to take over, for now. I say "for now", because all of this is new to me and I have no idea what is going to work out best for him, when. For now, I've changed my work hours to early mornings and early evenings. Weekdays, after breakfast, I plan to take him to museums, libraries, parks, and playgrounds. In addition to these open-ended excursions, we've enrolled him into typical planned activities. Mondays will be swimming, Tuesdays tumbling/gymnastics, Wednesdays arts & crafts, and Thursdays group activities with kids his age. Still trying to find something good for Fridays. Weekends will be same as always - regular family time, birthday parties, and some local traveling.

When I look at this from the perspective of an unqualified educator who has taken up the role of a child's primary education, the task seems daunting. However, when I think that most of my days will now be spent going to museums and parks, I get super excited! I'm guessing the reality will be somewhere in between and that's ok by me.

Today, we're going to the Largo Public Library!

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