Great bedtime classics to read to your toddler

One of the great joys of having kids is reading to them. But unfortunately babies and adults have different levels of comprehensions. Books made for babies are of course not very stimulating for adults.

But at 18 months, Ayden seems to enjoy listening to any random stuff I am reading. There is a lot research which shows children benefit from listening to language. So I have been reading my real estate course to Ayden at bedtime but when I am too tired for real estate course, then I read fiction. I use my Kindle to read in dark. It is perfect as dim glow doesn’t bother Ayden or get him excited at night.

Here are some of the books that are easy to read to toddler. Many of these are free or very cheap.

  1. Treasure Island (Affiliate link)
  2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Affiliate link)
  3. The Jungle Book (Affiliate link)
  4. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (Affiliate link)
  5. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Affiliate link)
  6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Affiliate link)

The best way to look for cheap or free books for Kindle is by filtering for books that are rated 4 stars or more and sort by low to high price. Or you can use this affiliate link.

Of course, you can read any book though toddlers start to understand sentences now. So you probably don’t want to read anything too scary or R-rated.

Easterseals daycare and developmental delays

Being father is one of the most rewarding experience. And it comes with a whole new set of worries. One of those worries is developmental milestones.

Ayden is behind is gross motors skills milestones. One of the reasons why he might be behind the milestones is that he is very chill baby/toddler. He was always contend playing with whatever was near him. We needed to provide him a lot of motivation to get him to move.

He was going to some really good daycares but there students to teacher ratio was too high. And teachers were not able to provide enough attention to Ayden. So Ayden was falling behind. In Texas, babies to teacher ratios required by law is 4 to 1. We also had therapist from Early Childhood Intervention program visit him at the daycare and they told us that it was a mess.

Luckily, we found Easterseals Carrollton. Over here babies to teacher ratio is 2 to 1 when we started. Right now, it is even lower. Most of the teachers have advanced degrees in child development. They also treat and enroll children with autism. Teachers are extremely nice and patient. And then they are non-profit. And because they are non-profit, their cost is lower than other daycares where teacher to student ratio is much higher.

And then they have a lot of different services like physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc. Therapists and teachers interact and learn from each other.

We are so grateful for Easterseals and tell everyone about it.

What is this blog about anyways?

I have had this domain since 2003. Originally, I wanted to make video games and Chaosplay was supposed to be a video games studio.

But then it was mostly a blog. I blogged about video games and programming. A bit about personal life. Eventually my focus was on photography, so I blogged about photography.

When we became parents, I was blogging about parenting.

I wasn’t a consistent blogger. I stopped blogging many times. Also several times I wiped old posts and restarted blog with clean slate.

Recently, I was using this blog as a bookmarking service. Basically, I would post just links that I wanted to bookmark. The idea being that I can go back and find this link from any computer or machine.

Failed side-projects

At the same time, I had several technical and business side-projects. I have built apps, started ecommerce sites, and now I am studying for real estate license.

Most of the side-projects were short lived. Longest I worked on a side-project was Yardale, a better looking Craig’s List clone back in 2008-09. I spent about 1 year on it.

But blogging is my longest project

This led me to realize that one thing I usually don’t consider a project is this blog. But if we include blogging into side-projects, then this is my longest running project. And I enjoy writing about different topics. If I pay proper attention to this blog, it can be my serious project.

A lot of time I worry that I don’t really have to say anything important to say and there are thousands of other blogs on topics that I blog about.

Recently, I read Nathan Barry, this post. This made me think that writing like any other skill can be improved with deliberate practice. And eventually writing about programming, real estate, parenting, and other topics might lead me to new business and career opportunities.

So my immediate goal is to publish one blog post of at least 250 words daily for next 100 days. Now I might write these blogs in bulk and schedule them to go out later in the week. But goal is to write a lot for next 100 days. This should not only help improve my writing but also help me focus with my short and long -term goals.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Death of a Programmer

I am a programmer all my professional life. I really got into programming because of video games. I wanted to work for some of my favorite video games studios. But then I got startup bug. I focused most of my twenties and thirties on startup ideas and projects. But I never dedicated 100% to any of those ideas. I always had a boring day job to pay for bills. I had to support my parents. And now I am a parent and unwilling to go all in on any startup.

So I have decided to get serious about my career and see what corporate America has to offer.

My current company offers management and individual contributor tracks. I was attracted to individual contributor track because I really just want to write code and stay technical. Unfortunately, as I gain more responsibility as team lead, I spend more time in meetings and less time programming. It’s been months since last I was able to write code in peace.

This led me to rethink my desire to climb corporate ladder as individual contributor. As an individual contributor, you gain a lot of responsibility but no real power. Your salary is also capped, there are very few programmers earning more than $500k salary.

Then in discussions with friends and reading books such as Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I realized something. We as programmers, enjoy doing work that has visible output at the end of day. I proudly call myself that I am bricklayer at heart. Factory workers probably felt same way as we programmers do. They probably felt very satisfied after a hard day at factory. They felt very technical working with those complex machinery. They complained about inefficient coworkers and wondered how they got hired. They whined about management pushing them to produce more while sacrificing quality. They laughed at Chinese goods and said their jobs are secure because of the quality of their work.

We programmer call ourselves artisans. We love playing with new technologies. We complain about tight deadlines and how it sacrifice code quality. We laugh at shitty code written by outsourcing companies. We think we will be in demand for a long time.

Based on all these thoughts, I think programming should stay my hobby but I should not focus on it being important part of my career. As you progress in individual contributor track, you are already doing less of what you love. Programming is an art, and art is a hobby for most of the people. Some people make money with art, but most don’t.

It hurts to say it because programmer is my identity but it probably needs to die. So while I work on real estate license and I am focused on becoming better team leader. My priorities are project planning, getting buy-ins from stake holders, unblocking my team, saving my manager from low level issues. The good thing is that these skills should transfer easily to real estate too.

(This post contains affiliate link)

Real Estate licensing courses

In order to get real estate license in Texas, you are required to take 6 courses, each about 30 hours of work. These courses are:

  1. Principles of Real Estate 1
  2. Principles of Real Estate 2
  3. Law of Agency
  4. Law of Contracts
  5. Real Estate Finance
  6. Promulgated Contracts

I have taken Principles of Real Estate 1 & 2, and today I will take final exam for Law of Agency.

These courses are actually very informative. In fact, I think anyone buying or selling their home would benefit from these courses.

While real estate agent is supposed to educate their clients on their rights and duties, ours did not do that good of a job. There is option period to get out of the contract. Clients can fire their agent if they feel agent is not doing a good job. Of course, if they end up buying a house that the agent had shown them, then they still owe him commission.

But most importantly we had no idea about fiduciary duties. We treated our agent like a used cars salesman and assumed that he was only looking out for his commission. Legally, Real Estate agents are required to place their clients interests above their own. And if they don’t, law is usually on client’s side. In fact, being a real estate agent exposes you to constant threat of lawsuits. So agents are incentivized to look after their client’s interests. Had we known this, we would have had more open and honest discussions with our agent.

Anyways, I am taking these courses with Aceable Agent. I like their phone app, it makes really easy to study anywhere, anytime. Other schools didn’t mention anything about their apps, though Champions school seems to be highly recommended too.

Real Estate

I have been programmer for over 15 years. I dreamed about my own startup or at least simple enough side projects. But having a day job where I am programming or dealing with technical issues leave me with no desire to sit in front of computer at home.

Also I enjoy programming when I am deeply focused or in the zone. But in an office environment that is rarely achieved. There are constant interruptions.

Earlier this year, I decided to start swing trading and buying options. It was a bit different from programming. I subscribed to paper version of Barron’s, so I am not doing my research on screen. Since Barron’s is a weekly paper, I would skim through over weekend. Place my trades in the evenings or whenever and they are executed when market opens.

The problem started when I installed Yahoo Finance and various app on my phone to constantly track stock movements. And then I mostly lost money trading stocks.

I made some money trading options, in fact, I made enough money in options to recover my losses in swing trading. I continue to trade options and leave TastyTrade play in background but rate of return on it is barely above buy and hold strategies.

So this bring me to Real Estate.

It seems Real Estate investing might be a good side project for the evenings. The way I see is that first step is to drive around and look for neighborhoods where you want to buy a property. Sure there will be some online searches too. Once you find a property, then comes the fun part. I am thinking about flipping properties. So there will be some work done to property after purchase. Of course, we will need to hire professionals but I can do some work on it too. It would be nice break from sitting.

Well hard part might be making actual profit.

Then I am also working on getting real estate license, so that I can save money on commision. But I can also help people find new homes or apartments. Again this means going out to meet clients and showing them various homes. This probably will serve dual purposes as I will get to learn more about real estate market and be able to find neighborhoods to buy properties in.