Progress – Not Perfection

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“Progress – Not Perfection” is a quote by Kathy Freston, a best selling author on the body/mind/spirit approach to health and wellness. This quote reminds us that even though we have a way to go before we become accomplished web developers, we don’t have to be stressed about being perfect right now.  What’s important is that we keep on our path and continue learning code –  brick-by-brick, hour-by-hour, two hours a day – until we reach our goal.

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Today, we take a breath on our code trail and and see the view of how far we’ve come along so far.  Since the launch of our code-learning journey in 2014, we have definitely made progress.  Last year at this time, we had just finished a course on HTML were then learning how to make background colors with CSS.  Now here we are, creating for-loops, objects and variables so we can duplicate the hour blocks to our “Mountain of Code Tower” with javascript.  We still have our foam board grid and colored pens, but this year we will also create a tower with code (HTML, CSS and Javascript).

We are deep in the woods of our code learning journey and are making progress daily.  I feel like Cheryl Strayed from the book Wild, I’ve gone too far to turn back and I look ahead and see the many miles we need to go.  At least I still have my boots!

We are not perfect, but that’s okay.  We are getting some traction and have moved beyond the newbie stage of last year.  With Treehouse, Code Academy, and independent practice, we have delving into: frameworks, advanced CSS, HTML forms, Javascript, jQuery, responsive design, Sass, Console, Git basics, web optimization and more.  All these topics are like different puzzle pieces that we need to learn how put together.  We are starting to understand the different shapes of the puzzle.  Now it’s time start learning how to build something beautiful.

Code Path Gets a Trail Guide

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Our code path to-date has been organic and self-driven.  However, since we are not in a ‘formal’ classroom setting, our journey can be a real adventure that takes us on various trails.  When we get lost, we need a map to find our way back to the path.

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Our path sometimes branches off to a steep trail with challenging new concepts to learn.  Then there is the desert trail, when all the code terminology gets confusing.  At times, there will be a dead end or a detour, where we can’t get our code to display properly and we have to retrace our steps.

A couple of weeks ago, we found a great book for code beginners called, “Learn to Code HTML and CSS”  by Shay Howe.  This book pairs nicely with our online Treehouse CSS class.  It covers the basics of HTML and CSS and reinforces what we have been already learning.

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We have been going through the book and taking some time to practice our own code challenges on topics like: display properties, box models, floats, typography, images, lists, layouts, etc.  By going over the terminology and taking the time to practice, we are starting to feel like the pieces are coming together.  Best of all, Shay Howe makes his book available online, so you can read it as an open source at http://learn.shayhowe.com/html-css/.

So I guess you could say, we are on a shady trail right now, as we practice and review our knowledge in conjunction with our lessons at Treehouse.  Once we finish the book, we will be ready to proceed on to the next adventurous trail on our code path.

Never Ever Give Up

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“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius

This quote says it all.  We have been moving steadily up the path and we are making good progress. The terrain is hot and dry right now, but we are not turning back.  We continue to learn and practice code every day for two hours.  When we are not taking lessons, we are practicing, debugging, reviewing, or updating our spreadsheet of notes.  There is no easy path to learning code.  It just takes time.

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The more we learn, the more we see how much more we need to learn.  Wrapping my head around the CSS concepts of: elements, attributes, pseudos, properties, classes, id’s, links, nesting, boxes, divs, structure, webkits, bugs, syntax errors, etc. – is a lot.  We have to just keep doing it until it becomes second nature.  I know we will get there.

Yet, even as we walk through this desert, we see beauty and promise.  We learn something new every day.   The pieces start to make sense.  It might take a while until we reach the next valley of trees, flowers and shade.  But we will not give up – ever.  When we get discouraged, we look at Our Tower of Code (which is slowly filling up with colored boxes) and it gives us motivation to keep on trekking.  

 

Endurance to Code

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Spending two hours a day on code seems like it will take forever to reach our goal, but we are staying on the path.  At this point, we are learning more and more about CSS on the Treehouse platform. Just yesterday, I uploaded some new code on our web page at http://codemoms.org and it felt great to implement what we have learned so far.

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On our trek up the mountain, I feel like we just reached our first mountain meadow, and we can enjoy the colors and calm air. Endurance is our friend. Going slow and steady works for us.  We take lessons, look back at notes and implement the new skills the best we can.

Ten hours a week is a good goal. Two hours a day.  Then there are those days that we work for four hours straight and my son says, “Can we hold off on the History class today? Coding is the most addictive and fun thing I have ever done. Let’s keep coding.”

Those are good days.  Onward we trek.

Learning by Doing

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We are taking steps each day to move up the code path.  To date, we have accumulated 70 hours of learning (our yearly goal is 500).  We are currently taking a CSS module with Treehouse.  After going through lessons on Selectors, Pseudo Selectors, Lists and Font Styles, my son and I decided to take an afternoon to practice what we learned so far.  My son worked on his web page and I updated our site at http://www.codemoms.org.  When I first launched it three weeks ago, my web page was made with only HTML code that had some in-line styling.  

Now that we had a bit of CSS under our belt, we were able to add color, style fonts and text, hover on hyper-links,  and make links active.  I had to go back through my notes to find out how to code what I wanted to do. It took longer than I expected but by “doing” it, we were learning.  I cannot stress how important it is to keep good notes and stay organized.   As I worked on CSS, it was exciting to try different codes and see them appear in the window.  We are at the beginning stages of our code path.  I know we have a long way to go on this journey with more challenging modules, but it is rewarding to actually create something with code that I can launch and see.  

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We like going up the path at our own pace, stopping to investigate, re-watching lessons as we need, taking the time to organize, and practicing what we learn.  Now we are ready for the next stretch.  Still on track.  Onward we go.

We Just Launched our Web page!

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Well, after several months on the code journey, my son and I have started to get familiar with a few languages.   We’ve studied HTML with Treehouse, Javascript with CodeHS, and are getting ready to dive into CSS.  After our lesson on HTML, we decided to see if we could create our own web page.  And we did it.

Best thing of all is that we couldn’t stop working.  Although my eyes got blurry from typing code and searching for my mistakes (so glad my son could help me out), we really had a lot of fun putting our knowledge to the test.  They say the best way to learn is by “doing.”  I agree, and add one thing — working as a team keeps you learning.

The web page is simple, but this is only the beginning.   As we learn more, we will apply our skills to enhance it.  Our next  lesson in CSS will teach us how to add color and style.  If you want to check out our page, visit http://www.codemoms.org.  Keep on trekking.