Thursday 31 December 2015

Out with the old and in with the new

Well... New Years Eve and a time for reflection again.

So much has happened since my last post, stuff that may well change the course of my career. I've been trying to get a foothold in the right place for some time but seemed to be blocked at every stage by my lack of the correct grade...but at the start of December I was given the chance to apply alongside higher grades for a Software Development training course. (after much nagging/ begging in the right places to allow it)

I'm ecstatic to say that I passed both technical testing and the formal interview, and am eagerly awaiting the start of the training, possibly from around March next year.

It's a move that may well turn our lives and the washing basket upside down for a while, as it would require full time attendance for a few months.  But to finally get the chance to put my OU studies into practice even for the test was awesome, so the prospect of taking on a whole new pile of learning is exciting. Not sure how it will fit alongside these last years of degree work, but I will find a way to make it happen.

But wow - looking back at 2015, it was the year I got to keep my Dad after a scary winter, it was the year I got to graduate with a BSc, and it was the year I got the chance to show my IT skills to the people who may be able to use them in real life.  Roll on 2016 and all the new challenges ahead!!

Happy New Year blogpeeps!

Saturday 28 November 2015

Success of a Plan - and planning to continue

OK - happy to say that following my plan has led to successful submission of the TMA - with four days to spare.

So now I just need to keep making promises to myself as to the expected level of achievement - and with a good bit of careful planning might actually manage to survive the winter without stressing entirely too much about assignments and such like.

I don't feel like I've been this focused (or this kind to myself) with regards to my studies for a long time - a bit like the washing basket - it was either empty or full, either cramming like crazy or avoiding the whole thing entirely!  The balance of freedom and study time has been quite nice, so long may it continue (well until the summer break at least!!)

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Staying true

Well almost a week onward and I am staying true to my promises to myself....which is kind of nice actually.

The TMA is progressing, bit by bit, I have a week left in which to submit it, and I am on target to be finished by my own self-imposed deadline of the end of the preceding weekend.  (I rarely like to leave a TMA submission until the last minute, as invariably the internet would go down or some such disaster - so I like to be done by the end of the weekend before the actual deadline - with an absolute last day of the Monday before it's due).

And I have, every single time without fail, stopped at my internally 'agreed' points, and put down the computer and walked away.  And I feel much better for it!

I'll still be glad once it's done and submitted and I can veg on the sofa or in the bath for a few nights again.

OK - story time calls - time to be Mammy for a while instead of Student.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Promises Kept (or Sounds Like a Plan to Me...)

Well - tis the end of the week - well - the weekend anyway.

And so far I have managed to keep all my promises to myself with regards to my TMA and progress etc:
  • Studied on the commute
  • Progressed the TMA on the evenings when I could study
  • Stopped when I had promised myself to (and enjoyed the resulting free time without guilt or remorse)  
  • Got in some daytime study - this one requires the most commitment I think - using 'free time' during the day on the weekend to study is a big pull.  I didn't do any on Friday, but as the promise was only to 'get some in' not do it on both days, I pulled it back by progressing to the end of the next question today.
Tomorrow I have a Sunday morning tutorial, but for tonight I have more quality time planned - my little brother and his girlfriend are coming round for tea and an evening of board games and hilarity.

There's still a fair chunk of TMA to get through, but I think that if I can plan and structure both time and activities the way I have this week, then I will manage it relatively unscathed!!

Make a plan - stick to the plan - reward oneself for sticking to plan.  Sounds like a plan to me!!

(and the resulting guilt free quality time with the BFF gave me inspiration and thoughts about how to carry out other 'plans' in my life - of a crafty nature)

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Keeping of Promises

In an oddly reflective mood lately, hence a post title that sounds more serious than I intended.  What am I talking about then?

It being 15 days from TMA deadline (and counting), it's about getting back to those commitments to study time.  Cos we all know that there's lots of times we 'should' and then don't (whether that be study or any of the many other things we fill our busy lives with).  But do you know - when we live up to our promise to do something, no matter how much we may not have wanted to do it in the first place - we usually feel better at the other end.

So - my promises for this week were:

  • To get some study in on the long commute - it's time that I usually get to sit down, and therefore perfect for taking in some extra reading.  Lately though I had been reverting more to mystery novels instead of the mysteries of Software Engineering.

    Result - About an extra 4.5 hours reading got me caught up to where I should be
  • To make some written progress on my TMA on the evenings - I know that the commute is great for reading, but it isn't an environment where I can type or make notes etc (no tables on the Metro) - so I still need to get in some evening study where I can.

    Result - a couple of days in and about 1 and a half questions down (out of 5 in total).
  • To get in some daytime study - after the long day and commute and eating/washing up/being Mammy and reading a bedtime story, I'm understandably tired - and that doesn't necessarily result in the most fantastic thinking abilities.  So this week I promise myself some daytime study time - probably Friday/Saturday when I have no other set commitments (so far) (and when I have other commitments on the night-time

    Result - to be confirmed at the end of the week!!
  • To allow myself to take a break and to stop when I have achieved the particular mini-goals I have set myself - for example - I will work on Question 2 tonight and stop when I finish, not moving on to the next question whatever time it is on the clock.

    Result - tonight I stopped at the end of Question 2, saved and closed my work, and came here to blog about it.  And tomorrow night I am going to take the night off altogether, and spend some quality time with my best friend, although I will still study-read on half my commute during the day.


Tuesday 3 November 2015

Button pushing and standing on ceremony

Well, officially today I have pushed the button to confirm formal acceptance of my degree.  Why so long?  I guess a last little degree of terror that something would go wrong at this late stage, that pushing the button would affect my transitional funding.  I even made a call to the Student helpdesk to double-check before finally allowing myself the pleasure.

I've definitely decided to delay the actual graduation ceremony till 2017 when I graduate with honours.  There's not a ceremony till next September that would be local enough for my lovely family to attend, which somehow feels like too close to the end of the whole thing, as I'd be getting ready to start the final module by then.

But I have to admit, I've shared my new-found graduate status with anyone who'll listen!!  It was one of those moments I was grateful for the presence of Facebook, to be able to share the joy with all the people who have been so supportive throughout the journey so far.

And yeah, somehow I still can't quite believe it's true and real, I have printed out the confirmation of my qualification acceptance to stick on the study wall and keep me inspired through the darker days of these final two modules.

Veronica Colling BSc Open (if I say it enough maybe it will become more real in my head!!?)

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Landmark Moments Part 2

Well no sooner had I sat and congratulated myself on part 1...I realised all of a sudden that I should check out the Degree progress page...

Yippee!!  I have a Degree - somehow I still can't believe it's really really real!!

Upon reading up further in the "bumpf", it appears that I can accept the degree without Honours and just defer the graduation ceremony till the 'real' end - so that is my plan so far.

It's been a 'future thing' for so long I still can't believe it's real and happening now and I can really be:
Veronica Colling BSc.

I have to admit that I've had more than one emotional moment today as it's sunk in, this massive journey has an actual Result!!  Chin has been a-wobbling muchly, and not for Weightwatchers-related reasons.

Might post more in the coming days after I calm down, but I had to get it out there while the buzz feels like this.

Landmark Moments Part 1

I did it!! Finally the elusive Distinction is mine. Results of TM129 came out today.  So I was happily celebrating this piece of news with myself when I realised something else...cue Landmark Moment Part 2!!

Sunday 25 October 2015

Welcome old friends

Well once again I am back to the need for a new "new normal". Somehow this time round not as chaotic as the last.  There are less after-work requirements for parental duties, and yes, being Outside the Washing Basket does help a lot.

That being said, I'm still welcoming back 2 old friends.... Can you guess who? 

Yes my dear friends the Study Bath and the Study Commute.

It's nice to have a textbook that is portable enough to bathe with this time round. And once you get past the screaming kids and screaming parents, those 3 hours on a bus or train are valuable time that can be filled with necessary reading and free up time at home for practical work.

I'm expecting the result from TM129 any time this week, so I will keep you posted!!

Tuesday 8 September 2015

The Sweet Spot

Well, the EMA is in, the new course materials haven't arrived yet, and I have a week off work.  I have downtime stretching ahead of me to fill with anything I want, and no guilty feelings about what I should have been doing instead.

It's also the time where I can say that I have finished sufficient points for the degree!!  I'll be more excited when I have that official confirmation though.  Even though I have no intention of walking away at this stage, it's kind of nice to know that what I have achieved means something, officially.

(Not allowing myself the option of what happens if I didn't pass.  Not allowed to happen)

Now I've just got to confirm in my head ideas for a graduation quilt. Talked it up and down many times but just not sure still about a particular idea.  Might think about starting something soon in the hopes I can finish by graduating time.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Decisions decisions....AKA What do you want to be when you grow up? IT Ninja Monkey please...

I believe that the all-important 'Final Decision' has been made.

(Yeah, somewhat prematurely, given that I haven't actually started TM354 yet - I know - but it's SO nice having a plan that I just wanted a plan..for at least something somewhere..)

So the final OU course in my journey after TM354 Software Engineering will be TM351 - Data Management and Analysis.

In a few of my recent forays into job hunting in the IT-world, it is becoming evident that the particular gap in my knowledge is that regarding databases.  I've got bits and pieces from working with Access in old jobs, and from some of the OU Visual Basic course, but that's it.  And it does seem to be a skill in demand by employers.

So there you have it - the final decision in the long series of decisions.  And a clear path to the end of the convoluted OU journey.

Just a matter of passing my current module and the next one first of course....

It's been a roller-coaster, emotionally, physically, 'workly' (dunno the real word for the impact my studies have had on my career path).  It's helping to cement finally in my head the real answer to the question posed when I was 10 or 12 -- what do you want to be when you grow up?  Back then there were many answers to that question:

  • Married to David Soul (Hutch from Starsky & Hutch)
  • A teacher (till I discovered I had no patience)
  • A policewoman (till I stopped growing and remained an inch and a half below the height restrictions as they were then)
  • An accountant - till I discovered that the only universities offering the kind of courses I wanted were what felt like a billion miles away from home and I couldn't live with that idea at the time.
Now, and for a few years solid, there has only been one answer - "IT Ninja Monkey please".  I want to program for a living - and if I ever get the chance of a real foot in the door, I may figure out in what capacity I want to do that.  But I know that when I do 'grow up', it will be with the help of this mad journey that has been my OU studies.

Wow - that was a long post!!  I'd better shut up and give you time to read it then....


Tuesday 28 July 2015

Second to None

Eeek - I just signed up for the penultimate module in my degree!!  TM354 is officially registered now, and I will have only one more sign-up to complete!

Can't quite believe it somehow, but there it is in black and white (well blue and white anyway):

So many courses under the bridge.  Need to start making decisions on the 'what next' that don't just include 'sit on the couch and moan softly'.  How to take this love of programming and step it up a notch into a career, in the words of one of our IT bods at work 'wanna be an IT Ninja Monkey?' - Yes please - where do I sign up for the banana?

Tuesday 2 June 2015

The Middle of the Beginning of the End

Had one of those realisation moments tonight as I got out of yet another 'study bath' and wrote in my real life journal.

In a mere 4 or 5 months time, I will get one of those letters...that says you have earned enough points to qualify for the basic Bsc Open Degree. Wow, even typing that is kind of surreal!

Imagining the blog post as we speak!

I'm at mid course point, getting ready to submit the 2nd of 3 assignments, so this really is halfway through the last course to get me there. I know, not quite the end yet as the 'honours bit' is still to come. But even thinking about that's almost time for the paperwork to go in for the first Level 3 course - TM354 Software Engineering.  Once that sign up is complete I will have only one more course to sign up for!

It's all kind of real all of a sudden... And yet not quite real until I see it in writing.  Me...with a degree...

Sunday 17 May 2015

Comes in handy sometimes!

What does?  My OU learning!

I'm currently learning some stuff about networking and IP addresses (not going to go into horrid levels of detail here cos there's a danger that I put my readership to sleep!!), anyway while having some IT issues of our own yesterday, a question came up that would normally have sent me running for the hills (or at the very least phoning for help from my 'baby' brother to explain it to me).  Anyway, I was able to establish that what appeared to be an issue wasn't one, and understood the information I was being presented with.

It's those (albeit rare) moments when my learning is relevant to daily home or work life that I celebrate as a proof of how far I have come in this convoluted OU journey of mine.

Just thought I'd share that, it's good to procrastinate on a positive note!

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Middle of the Road...aka mid-course blues

Halfway House...Middle of the Road...Battle of Midway?

No I'm not planning on releasing a solo album any time soon, I'm discussing the inevitable slump, usually arrives at the halfway point of any module.  The time when I know I have to study, but the want has all but left the building. When reading anything but the course materials is my greatest desire.

This week it's been waxing and waning a lot, perhaps egged on by the fact I am on public transport whilst hubby is off work for the week.  Somehow the thought of study after a longer day is less appealing, and carrying the textbook to work on the bus not as simple as the short walk from the carpark outside the office.  I have managed to force some in, via the guise of my old friend the study-bath.

It's harder to judge the balance of life without the state of the basket, so I'm not sure where I am in the chaos-scale, when I figure out a new measure I will let you know.

Only twice more will I hit this halfway mark though... And then onwards towards .....whatever is next outside the basket.

What's in a Name?

Well, still living outside the basket, in that the role reversal has continued with consent form both parties.

I'm not entirely managing to maintain full distance from the basket, but have refrained from all but a tiny couple of bits of necessary ironing that I wanted to wear immediately.

Which begs a question.... Do I need to rename the Blog?  Not sure that any other name would suit it, although if I come across suggestions then I might give it a try.  My  whole OU journey began because of the basket so I would like to keep some reference to it at least!

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Completely out of the Basket!

Before you ask, no I haven't had a major strop and thrown clothes and studies into the wind.

In his own words..."There's a new sheriff in town! "

Hubby and I were discussing the chores over Sunday dinner, and both of us felt like a change of some sort might do us good.

So I have abdicated as Queen of the Laundry, and him as King of the Dirty Dishes....These being the roles we traded off when we first moved in together.  An experiment has been proposed and accepted by both parties, we will be doing each other's major task.

It's been but a few days yet so we are still ' keen to impress'.  I can't help feeling that I got the best end of the deal, so I am happy.

A little part of me is finding it difficult to let go, the automatic tendency to sort another load till it's gone is still hanging around so far.  And I did smile a little as he talked of how you could just wash dishes but you need to learn many different things to do laundry....I don't think I really thought of it that way before... But it does explain somewhat why my head is so fuzzy... So many instructions to remember! What goes in with what... What definitely doesn't... What gets ironed and on which setting?

So I will keep you abreast of progress.... In the meantime I might have to catch up with study if I have less work to procrastinate with!!!

Friday 20 February 2015

Washing and Waiting

Hmm....there's been lots of both of those recently.

The most positive wait....funding was agreed and work are going to help out financially - it's a big boon and will benefit both parties, as the logic and programming knowledge will help with the work I am being asked to do most days now in the 'day job' (not always in the calm focused environment I would like to be doing it, but hey it's programming whichever way I have to be doing it and that's got to make me smile sometimes!!)

From a waiting point of view, the wait to start the course is well and truly over, now it's just time to try and keep the procrastination fairy away.

Which brings me to one of the other waits...yes the wait for the winter craft 'mojo' to arrive - typically it arrived about a week after the start of the course!!  So I am trying valiantly to balance studying and sewing, I've waited so long to feel the urge to stitch again that I can't force myself to ignore it entirely and go study instead!

And as for the final wait - I've been looking into the graduation ceremonies - this being the year that I should achieve 300 points - however there isn't one yet this year in this area which would take place before I get the course results for the current module.  And the next one 'up here' is next September - so having waited till September 2016, do I just continue and wait till I graduate with Honours too in June 2017?  I might need to take some advice from Student Support on this one.

I'd kind of love to simply go to a ceremony elsewhere later this year, but then it would mean not being surrounded by all the family and friends I have been so supported by along the way.  And I think that having that proud moment shared would mean so much more to me than 'doing it sooner'.

 So -  lots to think about.  And in the meantime, plenty of washing in the basket to keep me occupied!!

Wednesday 7 January 2015

A Parcel of Delights!

Ooo its that time again... the eager unwrapping of a box full of goodies!!

And no, I don't mean it's Christmas Day again already! I speak of course of the delights of the new course materials delivered yesterday.  A strange mix, with a DVD, a novel and a small (thankfully) textbook.

Somehow there's always a delightful feeling of anticipation mixed with slight trepidation when the new stuff arrives.  I'm looking forward to starting again, kind of still bemoaning the lack of obsessive crafting throughout the winter but positive and ready to begin on this last step for the basic degree.

Soon it will be time for the ritual of tidying the desk space to allow me to study in a pleasant place.

And then of course the sudden emergence of the procrastination fairy from her winter lair.  Let's see if I can empty the washing basket before the course officially begins on 31st January!!