Crossroads

all aboard

Greetings, fam.

Today I want to talk a little bit about what’s been mulling around my brain for the last week or two. This post is a personal one, about what the heck I’m doing with my life.

Here’s the deal —

I’m considering leaving my beloved job as a preschool teacher’s assistant to devote my time to coding. There’s six weeks left of the school year, followed by six weeks of Toddler Camp (can we just collectively “awww” at that name? This is my life, you guys.) Totaling 12 more weeks until I’m done for the summer. And quite possibly for good.

playground

My plan these next 12 weeks is to up my 3-job-having game and do freeCodeCamp on the side (a hustle already in progress.) Hopefully by the end of those 12 weeks I’ll have made a decent dent in the coursework and can possibly even start taking freelance clients again.

I’ll have saved up a few months’ worth of living expenses to cover my then 2-job-having butt for another few months, while I finish the FCC curriculum and then hunt for my goal of a full-time remote coding position.

I figure I got about 5 months before the code hits the fan.

(I was also hoping for a 3 week getaway to Europe this August, so we’ll see if I can still fit that in! I’ll keep you posted.)

So what’s there to think about?

Well. I guess nothing. Because honestly, I picture myself a year from now, and I see two possible versions. One looks a lot like me now: tired, sick often, but gets to hang out with my short little friends all day. Heart is full. But I’m also struggling financially with no end in sight.

The other looks like a more rested version of me. She is healthy (albeit has more eye strain). She is maybe still struggling financially but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. She’s applying to a few jobs now that FCC is under her belt. She feels free. She feels confident. She feels ready.

I want that second version to be my reality. And I know it can be. But I have to make the leap and go for it.

Okay. Yes. You’re right. I need to leave my job at the preschool.

Thanks, fam.

Bootstrap: a conversion story

bootstrap

Well that was fast! I just finished the Responsive Design with Bootstrap section on freeCodeCamp and I had to double check that I actually completed all the lessons.

Let me tell you, Bootstrap is super easy to use! It’s so intuitive and simple. It’s great! It also offers some really cool stuff.

Things that were new to me:

Wells. You can give a div a class of “well” and it gives it a look like there’s depth to the div. Super fast styling!

Font Awesome. Font Awesome is a library of icons that you can add to buttons (things like a thumbs up, or a cute little paper airplane for submit buttons). All you do is add Font Awesome to the top of your HTML and bam, you have access to the library.

paper airplane

Things that were not new to me:

The general concept of responsive design. I’ve been doing that for awhile already and after a long time of NOT doing it that way… let’s just say I would never, ever go back.

grid layout

Creating divs with class “row” and using a grid. I’ve been using Foundation, not Bootstrap, for the last few years. That just happened to be the responsive framework I chose to learn, and I liked it so I always used it. But I like Bootstrap and that seems to have a few more features and also it seems to be the trend, so thanks to this section in freeCodeCamp, I’ve now converted.

That’s all for this week! Happy coding, friends.

The first five hours

The first week of something new is always exciting. So let’s just jump right in to what I want to share about my experiences so far with freeCodeCamp.

By the way, if you missed last week’s post, I shared a bit about my past design experience which led me to this point.

Brownies have always been a favorite of mine…

I love this brownie points system. I love anything gamified. It totally works on me. I love seeing my brownie points rack up and I especially love that a friend of mine has 122 and I only have 37 at the time of this writing. That type of competition pushes me so far forward and I just KNOW I am going to catch up to him and surpass him. I can’t wait.

I love how short the lessons are. They are literally one page. And some of them are so quick, it’s hardly a new lesson. FCC really takes to heart the idea of small, simple steps leading to greatness.

mountain man

As I mentioned in my first post, I already had some design experience, so the HTML and CSS isn’t new for me here. It’s serving as a great review source though.

Other courses I’ve done (without naming names) have started at the top of an HTML document, teaching you the DOCTYPE before learning what a tag is. After DOCTYPE, you learn how to link CSS, without knowing what CSS is. By the time you get through meta tags and into the body, you’re questioning why you wanted to code in the first place.

I appreciate that these lessons start and end with the basics. They leave out the nonsense and get you typing out code that has a visual effect you can see in real time.

hex code chart
How many times have we seen this chart?

Also, I’ve always loved hex codes. When I got to that lesson (and remembered that hex codes were a thing), I felt this happy nostalgia. I think because back when I first learned HTML back when I was like 11, I had so much fun playing around with the colors. I’ve always just really, really liked hex codes. Sounds silly, but in the chance that a reader out there has as irrational a fondness as I do, I wanted to mention it!

And on that note, who else learned HTML from Neopets?

Looking forward to the lesson on Bootstrap next. I’ve always been a Foundation girl myself.

Cheers.

Hello, handsome new blog!

Greetings, readers! And welcome to my web development blog.

I’m one week in to freeCodeCamp and I’m really excited to share my thoughts with you so far. But first, I figure I should catch you up with where I’ve been and how I’ve gotten to this point.

I started learning HTML back in the early 2000s. Then I added some coding and some photoshop in there. But it was all just hobby stuff. It wasn’t until about 2009 that a friend came into the bar where I was bartending and asked me if I’d ever thought about doing web design. It was this conversation that I credit to starting me down the road as a professional web developer.

I did freelance here and there for awhile, but struggled a lot, being self taught and having gaps in my knowledge. I was so eager to start making money that I decided to forgo devoting time to learning, and just jump right in with client work. That went okay, but it was insanely frustrating coming up against roadblocks and needing outside help to solve them. Finally, the frustration was too much for me and I stopped designing altogether.

Fast forward to this year, which I’ve spent working as a teacher’s assistant in a Montessori preschool. It has been incredibly fun, exciting, fascinating, adorable, hilarious, and hug-filled. But I’ve also gotten sick five times in eight months, I’m exhausted, and I’m just not earning enough to be where I want to be in terms of my financial future. So with a lot of hesitation, I think this will be my last year. And back to web development it is.

I’ve always had a lot of fear around web work. A lot of worry and shame and fear of failure. A lot of frustration, too, and anger and resentment. But all of that is because I didn’t do it right the first time around. I put myself out there before I was ready. I needed a stronger foundation of skills – more than just a strong knowledge of HTML and CSS. That isn’t enough anymore. A designer needs to be a developer these days. And she needs to know how to code.

So this time, while the fear of failure is still very much there, and the memories of the seemingly impossible bugs to fix are still fresh in my mind… I feel at the same time relatively at ease about the endeavor. Because I know it will be better this time. My approach will be all different. My mentality will be all different. And hopefully, my results will be very different.

old way vs new way

The old way was the reason I struggled so much. I put so much pressure on myself to be a successful web designer, without nourishing myself — neither in terms of growing my knowledge and skillset, nor in terms of my personal life and keeping a healthy work-life balance.

The new way is the reason I will succeed. I will have patience. I will respect myself no matter what. And I will remember that if I keep learning, I will keep improving. And with improvement comes new opportunities. And opportunities lead to success.

And that’s why I’m so excited about freeCodeCamp. Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll share with you all my thoughts on the first week!