I love this time of year. The weather is finally starting to warm up and there’s been enough rain for the lawn to be lush and green. Flora and I went outside after supper tonight so she could play and I could watch and take pictures and just hang out. The air was warm and it just felt so good to be outside on a sunny evening.

“Mama, I want Bunny to watch me play soccer.”

I had the best seat in the backyard so Bunny sat on my lap. I held Bunny up so she could see Flora’s kicks and runs and shouts of “GOOOAAALLL!”

Flora got Bunny when she was a baby and she is now a cherished member of our family. I check Bunny for loose threads and I pray her head doesn’t come off in the wash. I wash her in a lingerie bag to be safe.

At four-and-a-half (well, really, almost three-quarters but who’s counting), Flora is obviously not a baby. I am astounded at what a big kid she’s become over the last year. But when she’s at home, she likes Bunny to be nearby. Even when she’s doing big kid things.

Flora tells me regularly that she wants to keep Bunny forever. I always tell her “I hope you do”.

Then when she’s out of earshot, I murmur to whoever is with me about my worries that Bunny won’t make it that long. Most childhood toys don’t.

I hope Flora does keep Bunny forever. I love her too.

17 years

17 years by MPriceMitchell
17 years, a photo by MPriceMitchell on Flickr.

This little surprise was sitting on my desk when I came back from lunch yesterday.

March 29th, 1996 is when Sean and I first became a couple. We didn’t get married until June 2004, but this date still matters to me.

Seventeen years is an odd number to celebrate but it marks that I’ve been with Sean for half my life. We’ve stuck together through our late teens, our 20s, and now our mid-30s.

Here’s to another seventeen years. And to seventeen more after that. And if our health prevails, another seventeen after that. And maybe a few more to make sure we got it right.

How do I fit my life in around the rest of my life?

While last week’s time change has made my weekday wake-up routine…challenging, the extra sunshine at the end of the day really has made a difference to my mood and energy. I’m also taking my iron and vitamin B12 pills more consistently and that might be helping too.

In the last week, I’ve signed myself up for aquafit classes (starting mid-April) and an online writing course. I’m still working through the Web Fundamentals track on Codecademy before I start on actual programming fundamentals. I’ve also been reading lots of novels – some quality, some trashy – which you can see on my Goodreads “read in 2013” list. That’s one advantage to my longer commute – more reading time!

Sean and I also started watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. We mainlined Season 1 last week and just started Season 2 yesterday. I love when we find a show we enjoy watching together. Sitting in the same room doing separate things is okay, but doing something together – even if it is just watching TV – is good for our relationship.

All that TV-watching seems to be slowing down the progress of my reading, writing and coding. I’m not watching a lot of other TV right now – not even my beloved Y&R. (I’m so behind!). Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to sleep. There is so much to do and learn and experience and only so much time I can devote to do all of it after work and when Flora doesn’t Need Me Right Now. Obligation trumps desire, but hard work deserves reward.

How do you find the time to fit everything in that you want to do once you’ve fulfilled the obligations and minutiae of your day? I can’t cheat myself of anymore sleep than I already do. Your tips would be welcome.

I will learn to code

When I was in highschool, I read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, one of my all-time favourite authors. I used it in my big English project in either grade 12 or my OAC year. (Aside: remember when you thought you’d never forget the details of your highschool existence? Well, you totally do.) I don’t remember the whole point of the project, but I remember that one of the points I was trying to make was that Internet-speak (short forms, emoticons and LOLspeak) was going to dumb down communication and make us all terrible spellers. Keep in mind that this was circa 1996-1997.

Maybe I should have gotten into futurism as a career. At least I can still spell.

The description of Microserfs from Douglas Coupland’s website is this (emphasis mine):

Microserfs first appeared in short story form as the cover article for the January 1994 issue of Wired magazine and was subsequently expanded to full novel length. Set in the early 1990s, it captures the state of the technology industry before Windows 95, and predicts the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.

The novel is presented in the form of diary entries maintained on a PowerBook by the narrator, Daniel. Because of this, as well as its formatting and usage of emoticons, this novel is similar to what emerged a decade later as the blog format.

When I was in highschool. I could have taken a basic intro to computer programming course. I think it covered Pascal and Fortran, but I’d have to confirm that with Sean who did take the course. I thought programming would be too hard so I didn’t take it. I took a word processing course instead (WordPerfect in DOS! Don’t miss that!). That course – along with my journalism class that wrote and designed the school newspaper and yearbook for that year – put me on a path to my eventual career in graphic design and document layout. But now I’m kicking myself for not taking the programming course too.

That last paragraph makes me feel like such a feminine cliché. Remind me to tell Flora not to underestimate herself when she is a teenager. I could blame the general slacker culture of the 1990s for my own hesitance, but ultimately, I know I was lazy. I could have done better in school and tried harder. I just didn’t want to.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Codecademy, a site that teaches basic coding skills for the web, and in various programming languages. I’ve been working  through the Web Fundamentals track because my HTML skills are woefully out of date. I took my first HTML course on a Saturday afternoon in 1999 back in college. I learned the basics and ran with them. I created several shitty websites. Including the one that got me an interview for my first job as I had posted my resume on it. With my full mailing address. How naive was I?

Today I saw this video from Code.org. It’s less than ten minutes so you should watch it.

I’m not so sure of what I think about little kids learning to code (they get so much screen time as it is), but now I’m finally diving in. I’m desperate to create something I’m proud of. Learning to code adds another tool to my arsenal.

Learning to code is teaching me patience and perserverance. Those are skills I need away from the computer. Being able to create something is almost a bonus.

New design for hellomelissa.net

I did a little redecorating around here this weekend. (If you’re reading via an RSS reader, click over and have a peek.)

This redesign is actually a bit of a big deal. I actually purchased a theme and modified the CSS myself to make it look more like me. I learned the basics of CSS years ago, but my skills got rusty as websites got more automated. I’ve been taking lessons at Codecademy to catch up to how things are done today, and it’s coming back to me bit by bit.

(I designed the new logo and background too, but I usually do that so that’s not really news.)

For me, blogging is writing, design, and technical skills coming together to create something interesting and usable. Since I’m a hobbyist, anything I pay for comes out of my pocket. I don’t have the money to hire a pro to do it right the first time.

I’m doing this for love people. Like a sucker.

I’ve learned a lot about patience and have built my skill set by doing my own website for the last 13 years*.  To be clear: I’m not a pro developer at all. To say otherwise would insult so many talented craftspeople and I don’t want to do that. I’m a print designer by trade so I understand the importance of making content visually appealing. I’m always surprised at how much easier it is to create websites that look like real websites – not the Geocities-style stuff of the late 90s and early 2000s I produced. It’s honestly getting easier and easier in a lot of ways. It’s more complicated in other ways, but I love learning how to uncomplicate it.

I got this site completely redone in less than 24 hours. I did a lot of other things in those 24 hours too – I wasn’t completely glued to the computer. It’s the fastest revamp I’ve had in years, if ever. The future really is amazing.

* There was a period between 2007-2009 where I was on a web service that provided pre-made templates that didn’t allow for much deviation. Whenever a customization feature was introduced, I always tried it out. I discovered I liked having more control over the output.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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