Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow...snow...snow....and School....?

I can't find the thingy I need to upload pictures from my camera to my computer, otherwise I would have posted a few pics of the amazing SNOW. Yes, we have been hit with plenty of the white and fluffy stuff this January. No joke, there is at least 3 feet of snow around my house----and those parts where the snowblower tosses the snow----maybe more than that!

This morning, poor Max with his stubby self had the hardest time. I was laughing at him, which wasn't nice. But it couldn't be helped. I went through the garage to go get the mail and that was funny too. I had this crazy idea that I could walk easily to the street because the snow would be less deep on the driveway. Well, this was true, but that didn't mean it wasn't deep! It was way over the tops of my boots. Not knee deep, like the snow in the backyard, but nonetheless....not the 'walk in the park' I thought it was going to be. And I won't even comment on the amount of snow at the foot of the driveway from the plows!!

But my handy snowblower guys showed up around 3 p.m. and carved out paths for us. I did my part too: I shoveled a veeery narrow path on the back deck to the stairs. And I shoveled the stairs down to the ground. I did all this for Max, of course. He followed behind me ever so patiently as I opened up the path for him. It took me over an hour, as I had to do the snow in 3-4 phases, it was so deep! I had only done 1/2 the steps, and Max started down. My calls of "no Max, not yet! come back!" were not heeded and he ended up at the bottom in a snowdrift, snout first.

But he was unfazed by this, if a bit surprised. He loves the snow, but poor doggy isn't getting to have much fun since he can't run around in it because of its depth.

Was this blog post supposed to just be about snow? Well, I did title it as such.

In other news, my little guy has been creative and adventurous during these many snow days. He created a board game of his own on a large piece of Kraft paper. We played it once yesterday and then today we started to color it in with markers and crayons. It's looking good.

He and I put together of his Christmas Lego sets, and then today, he pulled out the Lego Education tub (finally---I say this because I had been lamenting that I bought it because he didn't seem interested in it and it was pricey).... He proceeded to build a contraption/car of sorts and hooked up the battery pack (so lucky that it called for 6 AA batteries and....would you believe, we had exactly 6 AA batteries left in the closet!).

Of course I've been working all these days. I discovered yesterday, much to my dismay, that a spreadsheet of edits I was supposed to have input into the chargemaster last summer had never been completed. I did approx 40 of 280 edits---and then totally forgot about the task. DOH! I can make 101 excuses or explanations, given what the summer was like at work this year...but really. There is NO excuse. It simply fell off the radar and no one asked about it, because I've never given anyone the reason to have to ask after work I'm supposed to be doing. And I never gave it a second thought.

So, despite my growing aversion to data entry, I was committed to finishing that project up today, 5 months late. Which I did, in about 3 hours. And then, because you know how I love to be able to cross things off my to-do list, esp things that have been on it for too long, I pulled out the spreadsheet of those blasted multipliers (another heavily-procrastinated data entry task....only 4 out of 7 pages done....last worked on in October). And I finished that sucker up too.

Maybe tomorrow I'll tackle the claim check spreadsheet for the Epic team. It would be lovely to finish it before someone asks me for it. And now that I've "said" that "out loud", watch me get an email tomorrow morning asking me if I've finished it yet.

On a different topic, after all the endless web-surfing of online religion/theology programs and courses and no definitive decision on which to apply to and start, I spontaneously signed up for a course on the University of Dayton site. Now, can it be called spontaneous if I've had that website on my Favorites button for over a year?

Anyway, this UD program is non-credit, so a fairly painless way of dipping my toe into the educational waters again. I signed up for Survey of Catholic Doctrine simply because it was one of the 5 prerequisites for a Certificate Program for lay ministry leadership. Will I end up applying for that program? Well, naturally I've vascillated. There is also one for adult formation, which kind of jives with the retreat ministry/RCIA stuff that I'm drawn to as well. That one only has a 3 week seminar as a prerequisite, BUT it's a cohort kind of program---you take classes in sequence, and the program starts up in January and July. You know that now I am kicking my own butt because I could have started it this month if I had thought about it, and now I have to wait til July. But my plan is to take a 3 week seminar in March called "Theological Reflection" instead of my original idea of doing Intro to Scripture (explanation below). And then in May I will take the prerequisite course for the program, and then start in July. It is 7 courses and looks very interesting and full. If I kept up with it, I'd be done summer 2012.

Did I mention because of my membership at St. Mary's, the courses only cost $40 a pop? Now, I know, it's non-credit. But still....It's stuff I don't know, so I am going to be learning alot.

Does this mean I've decided against pursuing a Masters? Actually, no. The reason I'm reluctant to start up a Masters program is because I'm still undecided which one, and because an MA is a huge financial commitment. Plus it will require a lot of discipline and study and writing papers.... I'm sort of out of that scholastic discipline, after all these years. I'm sure I could pick it up again in a heartbeat, but the discipline itself? So I was thinking the UD non-credit program would be a good place to start.

I am definitely going to go for an MA in theology. It's the concentration I'm unsure of. Pastoral Theology? Pastoral Ministry? Religious Ed? Adult Ed? Youth Ministry? All of the online programs I've perused offer one or more of these.

You know I really what to do a Divinity degree, but you can't really do those online so for now....

Here are some of them:

Fordham-----------either Pastoral Ministry or Youth/Adult ministry PRO
                               fully online                                                       PRO
                               Jesuit tradition                                                 cool factor
                               possibility of attending graduation (many years down the road) as it's fairly local
                               pricey as hell (like over $800 a credit) and that's not including books yet       CON

Loyola Chicago-----the courses sound really interesting: PRO
                               fully on-line                                     PRO
                               Jesuit tradition                                 Cool factor
                               could do a field trip to Chicago for graduation
                               less per credit than Fordham but not by very much       CON

(Loyola has a MA in Spirituality that I would give anything to be a part of----but it's not online. It's one of those programs that I'm Jonesing after, but know in my gut it is something I'd have had to do in another life. Oh well. Maybe in my retirement years!)

Catholic Distance University----------strictly a Theology degree        EH
                                                         fully online                               PRO
                                                         lots of electives                        PRO
                                                         some course are paper based    EH
                            is it a real school? I know JPII created it or endorsed it but it seems kind of weird
                                                         tuition is not as cheap as you'd think and they give no info re: books

Felician College     ------------------Religious Ed degree           PRO
                                                        fully online (this program)   PRO
                                          Felicians look like old-style Bernardines     RANDOM POINT
                                          almost as expensive as Fordham!!!    CON

Holy Angels Seminary  --------------has online programs but the website is spotty and I can't get a good
                                           handle on the programs; would be nice cuz it's local to take on-site classes if
                                           need be....but it seems really geared to men

St. Josephs of Maine ----------------Pastoral Theology degree   PRO
                                                         fully online                          PRO
                                                  I was able to check out the book requirements for the core courses---some are pricey but can get good rates at Amazon, the upside: they look interesting! (And who wouldn't want to own a concordance?)
                                                  tuition is REASONABLE          PRO PRO PRO
                                                  could do a field trip to Maine for graduation!

There were others. Steubenville had a great program...but you had to attend 3 week summer sessions 2 years in a row. Sounds wonderful, the whole "community building" aspect and all know, that's not happening. A couple of the other programs I was interested had residency requirements of some kind too. So the ones llisted above are all ones that have NO residency requirements. I was limited to that.

So..... I am leaning very very very heavily towards the St. Josephs. Even though it's not a prestigious and Jesuit university like Fordham or Loyola, I was realizing that I was getting hung up on that brand name business, if you can imagine! I mean, I went to Southern, what do I care? But I had this little weird gremlin in my head saying things like 'oh you can say you graduated with a theology degree from Loyola". As if that matters at all!!!

St. Josephs is a real honest to goodness brick-and-mortar school, that has a distance program like so many other colleges (Drexel, etc) are doing. So....that is good enough for me, no? And let's face it, it's a very real possibility that this endeavor will end up with me gaining an MA, and a whole lot of theological and religious and spiritual growth----but still be working my sorry butt of in my cubicle crunching numbers----can I justify spending over $1800 a course for my own spiritual enrichment, when I can do the same on a lesser scale at a non-Name school, esp given it may end up being solely for my own personal enrichment, if I'm unable to switch careers?

No, I really cannot.

Plus, like I said, the books look interesting, and the classes do too. The core courses themselves seem really holistic. I like that. And there'll be an Old Testament one, which is why I didn't sign up for the non-credit one, but instead decided to take the Theological Reflection one to get my writing muscles back in gear on, again, a quieter course.

You can apply and start at St. Josephs at any time, although each course starts on the 1st of the month.
So.... I have to get my act together on transcripts and what-not. That will take me some time, knowing me. And then your first 2 courses you take provisionally as part of the program. I was thinking I would take the 2 I was most interested in from the core courses, this way, if I change my mind, at least I got something out of what I was studying.

But will I change my mind? I think only financially would I, but the truth is, it's something I really want to do, and if I take it one course at a time (15 week courses), I can swing that, no? I'd hate to think I'd change my mind because it turned out that I couldn't handle the studies. In some way, I actually feel like I need to prove myself in that regard. The honor student in me is often embarassed by the fact that I didn't pursue higher studies beyond the teaching degree---and also by the fact that despite my high grades and college prep background, I really don't know much of anything at all.

(Side note to that: I really want to purchase this audio course on US History. I listened to a sample CD and it was great and so interesting, and I know so very little about History. BUT.... it costs almost $120. It is 15 CDs or something like that.... I have til Feb 27 to decide, then the price goes up).

Anyway, I feel really drawn to working in ministry in the very near future. I need to have some kind of background I believe. I know I can do volunteer lay ministry without a degree right now. But I want to do more than that----when the time comes, and my season of motherhood with a young child is over, when I'm able to devote myself to other things, I want to be ready to switch gears. I don't want to dabble. I don't want to wing it. I want to switch gears.

I ended up where I am today by default. Now I want to re-direct myself and have a vision. I definitely feel God working in me on this. I think the years spent studying will be a good prelude to the years I'll be able to devote to actual ministry work. And maybe I will end up going for a M.Div someday! Who knows. All I know is: the seed is planted, now I have to nourish it. And it will grow in years to come.


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