Category: Web Design

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

When coding and kids collide graphic
October 27th, 2017 by Suze

The further I delve into the world of web design and development, the more I realise that coding really has a lot in common with parenting.

Technological tantrums

  • For starters, the tantrum the console throws up if you miss off a semi-colon is tantamount to the four-year-old’s melt-down over the wrong juice in the wrong-coloured cup.

Coding capitals

  • Who would have thought a simple capital letter could throw hours of work into disarray. It is cannily similar to the mess made by the children in their bedroom in the two minutes you have your back to them as you sort the wardrobe.

Order, order

  • And while we are on the subject of tidying and order, the mere-ist hint of code popped in the wrong place renders your project useless. Not unlike the loss of a favourite toy, that was definitely put on the kitchen table and nowhere else, with an added refusal for the day to remain on hold until it is found.

Issued instructions

  • Then there’s the database that refuses to log the data. You have been through that code with a fine-toothed comb. Even your tutor can’t find a error. But it refuses to listen to you and will not do as it is told. Strikingly similar to the small child who refuses to hear, that’s if he listens at all.

Little Mr Matching

  • Meanwhile, trying to choose the correct shade of blue for a header and match it with the right font, for just the right look, is reminiscent of Mini Cooper 2’s inability to leave the house without his hat matching his shoes.

Art is in the detail

I love coding for its detail. I love how powerful a simple line of code can be. But in the same breath the frustration and relentless refreshing gets repetitive and tiresome pretty quickly. I love every bit of every child. I love the way they each see the world in a different way. But in the same thought I could sometimes do with 10 minutes where I am not answering a question, listening to a whiny complaint and, dare I say, a couple of hours uninterrupted sleep.

Learning as you go along

No one said learning would be easy. No one said parenting would be easy. Joining the two together seems like craziness. Welcome to my mad, Mad world.

A photograph of the Cooper family

 

Read my earlier post about learning to code – Studying Javascript: Well, how did I get here?

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Posted in Studying, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Web Design 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: , , , , ,