Category: Learn Direct

Meme showing baby hand with study books
December 7th, 2017 by Suze

Yesterday for a split second I dreamt of having an hour to myself at my desk.

This magical hour would mean I could finish the complicated task for my assignment. It would mean quiet time. Time to order my thoughts. Time to work out the question. Time to apply my knowledge.

It would mean my hands could be at the keyboard and my eyes could be focussed on the screen.

Insert sound of LP being ripped from record player

The GIRL baby pooed about 10 minutes ago. I heard it. I allowed myself the “we’ll just give you five minutes to see if you’ve finished” excuse.

“Can I have an apple?” comes the cry from Mini Cooper 1. “I want one too” chimes in Mini Cooper 2. Requests noted I continue with the task at hand. Trying to unravel a question about JavaScript. Not the answer, just the question. It would appear I need a degree in computer science to even understand what they asking me to do.

I am faced with a list of tasks to carry out in JavaScript. There’s no explanation as to whether I should be coding something in particular or something useful. I just have to evidence each individual task on this list. The list is a full side of A4. The list seems to grow each time I look at it. I need to discipline myself. I need to focus on just one task and complete it before moving on to the next. Easier said than done.

The GIRL baby is bending so far forward she is now sat with her forehead touching the floor and her legs as wide apart as they can go. She isn’t moaning. She needs changing. The boys need apples.

“Can I have a drink”
“I want apple juice”

Mental note: Boys need food and drink, GIRL baby needs changing…still.

I daren’t look up from the screen. I am researching why a method isn’t a function… oh, but I could use that bit of information for the global variable example. Ok… bookmark that. Return to methods and functions.

Mental note: Did I pay for the school panto tickets? When is the school panto?  Boys need food and drink. Check The GIRL Baby poo situation.

Can’t get to grips with methods and functions. What’s that? Returning functions… yes, I need to do that as well. I will type that in and then…Me and Mini Cooper 3 start again

Why is my foot wet? GIRL baby is sucking my foot. I sweep her into my arms and balance her on my right knee with the laptop on my left.
“I’m hungry”
“Where’s my drink”
The GIRL baby claws at my face and pulls herself up by my shoulder.
“Is dinner ready?
“I want an apple”

With that I glance up at DH and say: “if I just had an hour I could get so much done”.

But as I say it I know that isn’t what I want. Me holed away upstairs, the guilt rising through my stomach and chest. Being in another part of the house to the rest of the family, shut away from the hustle and bustle may seem a nice idea but is it really what I want? While it may not be very easy to concentrate with the Mini Coopers about, it isn’t impossible.

After all, having them under my feet as I type is the greatest reminder of why we are doing all this in the first place.

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Posted in Learn Direct, Studying, Web Design

November 30th, 2017 by Suze

You’d be forgiven for wondering where the posts on being a mum who studies have gone. I set this blog up with the intention of keeping myself motivated by journalling here about how I was managing to study and mum at the same time. The truth is that within weeks of setting up the blog Mini Cooper 3 began to crawl. And suddenly the little time that had been my own, was no longer my own.

Crawling

The feeding and sleeping cycle disappeared, taking with it the confidence-boosting bursts of micro-study that I had been cramming in to those times. Added to that, the coding part of my Level 3 Web Design and Development course came to an end. That was the bit I had been working towards. Those were the modules I was desperate to reach from day 1 and now… they were done.

Meanwhile, Mini Cooper 3 started standing and I started spending a lot of time re-setting her down the ‘safe’ end of the room, moving the ‘unsafe’ stuff out the way and generally getting up every two or three minutes to untangle her from something or pick her up and rub the latest bruise.

Good bits gone

Having studied web browsers, security, and how to plan and test a site, I had ploughed headlong into html, css and a bit of JavaScript. I knew the course wouldn’t cover these in much depth (and it didn’t) but this was the hands on web design stuff I really wanted to learn. With those modules done, and a year ahead on the course deadlines, the prospect of learning about cabling and networking didn’t fill me excitement. And now, I no longer had those all important moments to sit and race through it.

Paper chase

Even the motivation to log in daily and do a little here and there left me. Even now if I do log in, it’s unlikely I will get more than five minutes to concentrate on something as invariably Mini Cooper 3 will pull herself onto her feet and start cruising towards me with that ‘I love that bit of paper, let me crush it’ look in her eye. Or worse still, she gives me the silent treatment and crawls behind the chair where she may be found moments later stuffing said piece of paper into her mouth. She looks up at me, grinning, with a glint in her eyes that says ‘oh sorry, was this important?’

An assignment looms

The wall meme

So, a massive 14 question assignment on networking awaits me and no matter how hard I try I can not find the spark I need to just GET IT DONE! It feels as though I am cemented firmly in the stuck-behind-this-brick-wall stage. (Read about my first encounter with The Wall from a few months back… http://www.thismumstudies.com/this-is-the-wall)

Learning about life

While the official studying is hard going, I am still seeing every experience as an opportunity for learning. This year has given me the chance to study a really important subject, one that I haven’t spent much time on before. This year I have challenged and changed some long-held deep-seated beliefs. I have studied me. So while the book learning may not be going to plan (and the mummy-ing has no plan) one thing I can be certain of is that I am learning more about myself every day. Studying Suze is an added bonus to studying everything else, and may possibly be the most important learning I can do for myself and my family.

 

 

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Posted in Learn Direct, Studying, Web Design

A moving graphic of The Great Wave
November 9th, 2017 by Suze

It’s a love, hate relationship. I veer from the thought of studying filling me with dread, to actually doing the studying and loving every minute.

As I come to the end of each unit I have got into the habit of looking ahead. Initially this was to motivate me but now I am halfway through the course I feel a little bit like I am treading water. I am always excited by what’s coming up next, but my impatience means that by the time I have browsed through the study outcomes I am starting to feel the pressure of learning all these new skills looming over me.

Sorry, when?

I am now studying Unit 18 of Level 3 Web Design and Development. Just four more to go after this. It’s a long way to have come in a relatively short space of time. I only started the course in March. It’s a dry unit. I can’t say I am much inspired by learning about networking topologies or the benefits of shielded twisted pair cabling. Learn Direct emailed me the other day to say I had missed an assignment deadline. I had to reply and point out that my next deadline will in fact by October 31, 2018, not 2017. I get it. They probably don’t have students using frantic mummy energy to log in and learn during every spare (and sometimes not so spare) moment they have.

Waving not drowning

I feel like I am riding a wave much of the time. I start out just floating happily along, taking notes. The physicality of a folder full of writing reassures me I am learning something. The water rises as I reach the assignment and I realise I must now prove that I have actually taken something in between the cups of tea, nappy changes and late dinners.

As I wade through the various questions there are certainly points at which I feel like I am bobbing around in the water. Gasping for air. Trying to reassure myself that I am waving not drowning.

Owing to my need to see what’s coming next, I start to read through the next unit before the previous assignment is complete – and so the process begins again. Initially this fuelled my adrenaline. It gave me the energy I needed to keep going.

The need for sleeping

But recently the thought of taking on the next wave is starting to whip up a storm in my mind. I am getting more and more exhausted. Not helped by the 90 minute bursts of sleep I exist on between night feeds. I learnt this week that someone getting between 4 and 5 hours sleep a night, operates at the same level as someone with 0.1% blood alcohol. Where does that leave me? In a state not dissimilar to a daily piss up in a brewery it would seem.

The need for studying

And how do I deal with this state of virtual inebriation? I study. I once again dive in and start making the next set of notes. Somehow I find myself in calm waters once again.

I was never a very strong swimmer but I knew which stroke would see me finish the race first. Maybe that’s the skill. Finding the right stroke and riding each wave. Or perhaps I should just try and ride one wave at a time instead of tackling each one with a different stroke… now there’s a thought 😉

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*Please note that as an Amazon Affiliate I benefit from any sales made through the use of these links. This relates to any purchases made after clicking through from this link – it doesn’t have to be the item shown here.

Posted in Learn Direct, Remote Learning, Studying Tagged with: , , ,

Photo of a slow cooker with pens and Javascript book inside
October 13th, 2017 by Suze

Since I have been back at the books I have tried to create pockets of time for study. While Mini Cooper 3 was in the teeny newborn stage, there seemed to be several opportunities for this. Studying while feeding, studying while she naps, studying as she sits in the bouncy chair. Now she is 9 months old and that’s a game changer…

While she hasn’t quite cracked crawling, she is shuffling her way around in that lightning quick way that they do. I put her in one place and a second later she is somehow across the room. This has changed my study spots somewhat for no sooner have I popped her down with her toys and grabbed the laptop, she is pulling at the fireguard or pulling herself up to stand by the sofa, needing me to come and ‘Reset’ her.

Time for change

Photo of my sofa study spaceSo study times have changed. As I knew they would. It means a change in expectations from me as I struggle to complete the next course unit. It seems that along with less time to study, motivation is also on a dip (read more here: This is the Wall). Not a great combination when I was trying to stick to such a tight schedule and complete this course by January.

I am now trying to create some extra time (wouldn’t we all like to do that!). By that I mean I am using Mummy Multi-Tasking to give me those precious extra moments. Suddenly by creating them, it seems only right I use them as they were intended, so they have a double use as they are helping to focus me on the task in hand.

Bye bye bland

Enter, my secret weapon, my slow-cooker. I have had the slow-cooker for about five years. Every Autumn I blow the dust off it and pop it on the side. I might make two or three lack-lustre dinners in it and then back in the cupboard it goes. Not this year. This year it needs to earn its place on the kitchen side.

Over the last few weeks I have tried to inject some flavour into the meals and last week I cracked it. Now this is going on the menu once a week giving me an extra hour of study time between the school run landing and dinner time. Now that is gold. The recipe is below.

Slowly does it

Graphic showing the length of time meals take to cook in the slow cookerWhile I am at it I have put together this quick cheat sheet. Every time I bung ingredients in the slow cooker I find myself scouring the internet (and ultimately texting my slow cooker guru sister) to ask how long to cook it for. This time when I found the info I decided I would not lose it again . So here that is too (and it’s Pin-able! Follow me on Pinterest and  I’m on Instagram too)

 

  • Is the slow cooker your friend? If you want to share any slow-cooker secrets or recipes then please do so in the comments.

 

 

Recipe

Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Stew

500g diced beef

3 small onions (red or white or a mix)

1 medium carrot

1 medium parsnip

Charlotte potatoes

1tbsp of tomato puree

2pints Bouillon

Bouquet Garnis

A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley and fresh coriander

 

METHOD

  1. Brown the meat (optional)
  2. Chop all vegetables (potatoes may need cutting in half to ensure they cook through – use as many as will fit!)
  3. Add tomato puree
  4. Add vegetable stock and bouquet garnis
  5. Stir to mix
  6. Pop on low for 8 hours
  7. Serve with fresh herbs to taste
  8. Enjoy with fresh crusty bread

 

*Made using a 3.5L slow cooker like this one…

(Please note I am now signed up to the Amazon Affiliates scheme which means I may benefit from anything you buy through this link)

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Posted in Learn Direct, Mini Coopers, Studying Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

The wall meme
September 21st, 2017 by Suze

I fear I have hit The Wall.

(Which is a shame as it is trying to be a nice friendly wall, look, it’s even saying hello)

I don’t want to study. I don’t want to do it (cue child-like tantrum). I want it completed and gone. I have to do it. But I don’t want to do it. I am in that love it but hate it space.

Every time I sit at the computer I find 200 other things to do rather than log in to my course. I think I am on study burn out. Half of me wants to log in, plough through and get it done. The other half says it’s sunny outside, the house is a mess, leave it all behind and go and walk through the trees.

This is it. This is the wall.

I have been here before, several times. GCSEs, A-Levels, degree 1 (I actually have no idea how I got through that) and definitely degree 2 (I thought I never wanted to see a book, pen or laptop ever again).

The trouble is I have studied every day since I signed up for this web design course. I have logged on Every.Single.Day. and done something. Reading, assignment question, watch a video. I reaped the benefits in the early days and sped through the course. Now it feels like if  don’t log in every day I won’t get it done. I want to keep uptake momentum but I am running out of steam.

Getting ahead of myself

Learndirect called me the other day. Voicemail: “We can see you are on unit 16. That is due in one the err… on the… 1st of September (pause) 2018…. we would like you to email us to confirm you will make this deadline.”

Well, yes, I am pretty sure that with 345 days to go I am going to make it – thanks.

Or am I. This is the wall.

One of the motivational tools used on the Learndirect dashboard is badge system. For every so many hours of study, you get a badge on your profile. For every early morning study, a badge on your profile. For consecutive day of study… a badge on your profile.

I have the badge for 150 days straight. Here it is…Badge for 150 days consecutive study

 

A (digital) Bit of Paper I had to have. And now I have it. I don’t think there is one for total, loony, crazy lady who is continuing to log on every day and work even though she needs a break. (If there is though – can I have it?)

I want to batter it. I want to code those functions. I want my Javascript form to send data to an email address and I want to create real working things out of numbers and letters and typing and for magic to happen on my screen. But if it’s all so clever why can’t I just download it to my brain?

If only.

This is the wall. I better start climbing it before it crushes me.

 

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Posted in Learn Direct, Remote Learning, Studying Tagged with: , , , , ,

Infographic about what to consider before signing up for remote learning
September 15th, 2017 by Suze

Click the title above to enlarge the infographic. Don’t forget to Pin this infographic and while you’re there follow @minicoopersmum

Posted in Learn Direct, Remote Learning, Studying Tagged with: , , , ,

Javascript in multi-coloured fridge magnets
September 1st, 2017 by Suze

This week I have learnt the following…

  • – Being 37 feels like being 36, but closer to 40
  • – Being realistic about how long something will take will probably make life less stressful
  • – There is something worse than a baby that wakes every hour and a half… a baby that wakes every hour.

I have also learnt how to enlarge an image when you hover your mouse cursor over it. This is JavaScript and this is what I am studying at the moment.

But how did I get here? Back in November 2016 I was pregnant with Mini Cooper 3 and DH was looking for new opportunities so he could make his escape from Never-Ending Working. He wondered if a coding course would be the right thing for him and suggested I take a look at the website. So I did.

The 12-week immersive course looked amazing and it started me thinking. Why hadn’t I ever considered learning about web design? I have always had a knack for technological problems (thanks to my dad who was a lover of all things gadget and a computer wizard). Growing up in our house was a constant stream of new technology. It was also a constant stream of swear words in frustration at the new technology which invariably wouldn’t do as it was told. My dad was passionate about his tech!

Being 8 months pregnant with our third child I realised that popping into London every day for 12 weeks was not going to be on my to-do list anytime soon. But my learning flame had been ignited and I needed to know more. So I did what any self-respecting wannabe web designer would do and Googled it. Within minutes I was signed up to Code Academy and learning about HTML and CSS and I loved it.

Thinking Beyond The Babies

Zoom forward a few months and Mini Cooper 3 was six weeks old. I vividly remember saying to DH “this is the first time I have had a newborn and not been studying for something – how liberating”. Two weeks after saying that I had signed up to the Level 3 Web Design and Development (RQF) course with Learn Direct. It took weeks of online searching, and soul searching, to decide on the right course and ensure I was in the right place to get back to learning. This time I would be learning  with purpose. I would be re-training. I would start to peek at that unknown land Beyond The Babies. But the mum guilt set in almost immediately. I had a newborn. What was I doing?

Well, actually I was stopping myself falling foul of the FaceBook black hole. Don’t get me wrong I can FaceBook as well as the rest of you. It is a daily, hourly obsession to check up and see what my sister had for dinner but when you are breastfeeding your baby 12 times a day around the clock, the draw of FaceBook wears a little thin.

If I was going to be stuck to the sofa with my phone in my hand, I may as well be reading something that added to my life.

I may as well be studying.

Having signed up and logged in I was faced with 22 unit headings containing several sections, each with an assignment to complete. The timetable suggested spending a month on each unit with a view to completing the course in two years. By now future plans in the Cooper house were taking shape and DH was on the brink of leaving Never-Ending Working behind. I needed to get this done within two years. In fact I needed it done in one year.

So I set to work. The units are broken down into sections; each one focussing on one topic at a time. This makes it relatively easy to dip in and out of. So far I have covered internet security, databases, web development and testing along with some HTML and CSS. While studying around the children adds an extra challenge, the way this course is laid out helps in many ways and generally I follow this loose plan…

  • – Read a few sections at a time (usually while feeding Mini Cooper 3)
  • – Before I have read too much – go back and make notes of the main points (this requires both hands but can be done while over-seeing Lego building).
  • – Go into the assignment to complete just one question. This may mean research outside the text as well as referring to my notes. (This requires both hands and my brain and is often done in those precious moments when all three are in bed)

Because I am working around the children I don’t really ever have time to do all of these things in one sitting. To be honest I don’t think my brain works that way, and for me breaking it down like this makes it easier to cope with. While I have already advocated The Use of the Odd 15 Minutes, I am by no means saying it can all be done just by doing 15 minutes each day. I try to find pockets of time when the children are at school or off doing something.

JavaScript

I began the course in March. It is now September and I am working on Unit 14. Some units have taken me longer than others. In some cases I have managed a unit per week. But what happens when a mum of three collides with JavaScript and the summer holidays? Four weeks to complete a unit is what happens! However, I can not complain too much. I am currently 249 days ahead of my next deadline.

It’s a good feeling for someone who often struggled to get her homework in on time while at school.

But I will admit I have hit a wall. This unit is hard. It is a practical unit, full of coding. There’s no hiding from it. It either works or it doesn’t. I can get it to work but it takes time and I am impatient (wonder where I get that from?). Meanwhile, school trousers need taking up. Washing Mountain needs folding and putting away. These are the last days before Mini Cooper 2 starts school and I haven’t got my head round that yet. I am starting to think my plan of putting 24 months of study into 12 is actually not realistic. I may have to Change The Plan.

So I return to my JavaScript. I am now creating custom JavaScript objects as well as methods and functions to manipulate them (what?!) All between trips to granny’s, opticians appointments, nappy changes and cups of tea (thank you DH).

Now if only I could code a teething baby to sleep for longer than an hour…

 

* What exactly is a Level 3? I didn’t know either. It appears a Level 3 is somewhere between an A-Level and a degree. It is entirely vocational and Learn Direct encourage you to take their employability course alongside your learning.

 

 

 


 

Posted in Learn Direct, Studying, Web Design Tagged with: , , , , ,