Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Getting to Know You

My friend Carrie, who is a veteran blogger and the host of our online book club, proposed this topic, along with a list of potential questions. Being the free spirit that I am, I have picked a few questions, mixed up the order, and made a few up myself.

1. What is your real name, and what does it mean?

Since I am a licensed attorney, my name and professional contact information are public. In addition, I have been fingerprinted at least a dozen times. My home address - and probably yours too - is easily available on the internet. And I blog. Any illusion of privacy that I may have had is long gone. My best hope is that no one cares about me enough to cause trouble.

Timothy means “to honor God,” and comes from the Greek. The historical Timothy was the Apostle Paul’s protege and friend. Timothy was a human example of the spread of the Christian Faith from the Jew to the Gentile, as he was the product of a Greek/Jewish marriage.

Swanson is from the Swedish side of my family. It dates at least as far back as the 8th Century. Although my ancestors immigrated directly from Sweden in the 1890s, the name crossed over to England during the Viking invasions. Various forms of the name are found in the Domesday Book. Likewise, the root word “Swain,” meaning “boy,” “young man,” or “person in charge” entered the English language. We find it in the nautical terms “coxswain” and “boatswain.”

2. How long have you been married? How many kids do you have? Have you ever considered adopting?

My lovely wife and I have been married eleven years (as of the date of this post), and have five children. We had them within a 7 year period - including three in less than three years.

I am a big proponent of adoption, and would have adopted if we had not had a bunch of biological children. Right now, I think I have my hands full.

3. Follow up question: Are you guys [fill in the blank] Catholic? Mormon? Quiverfull? Crazy?

No. No. Definitely not. Probably. It’s as good an explanation as any. Actually, we both wanted a largish family. Say, four or so kids. We ended up with five. We both found parenthood - even with small babies - to be more fun than we expected.

4. Why do you home school your kids?

My kids are second generation home school students. My wife never attended a traditional school. I attended kindergarten and first grade. Ok, I attended some of those grades. I was a sickly child, and would typically come down with bronchitis by Wednesday, and miss the second half of the week. I took so much work home with me that my principal finally suggested to my parents that they keep me home. At that time, they had never heard of such a thing. As they say, the rest is history.

I loved learning at home (still do, actually). I found that I could get through my basic assignments in a couple of hours, leaving time for reading, outdoor stuff, and most of all, music.

Why do I home school? So we can go to Disneyland on winter Wednesdays. I’m serious. My dad had a rotating schedule that rarely gave him weekends off, so we always were able to dodge the crowds.

Also, I love teaching my kids stuff. I like being able to take a hike on a random day when work is slow at the office. I like that they can finish their schoolwork by noon, rather than coming home at three with two hours of homework ahead of them. I like that we aren’t so busy preparing for standardized tests that we do not have time to look up random stuff that interests them.

5. Do you attend church, and if so, what denomination are you a part of?

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I care about the deep questions of life, and that I am a Christian. During my younger years, my family attended a variety of denominations, from the Christian Missionary Alliance church that my grandparents on both sides were part of (both sets were foreign missionaries), to Assembly of God. I have also attended a Filipino church, several non-denominational churches, and a couple of home-based churches. As part of my musical life, I have participated in services from Catholic to Anglican to Methodist. There have been things I have liked and disliked about each particular flavor.

After all this peripatetic wandering, my wife and I settled on our present church as the church we would attend while dating. We have now been there thirteen years - far longer than any church either of us attended previously. It is a smallish Evangelical Free Church. The doctrinal statement is short and sweet, and the denomination is remarkably non-authoritarian, giving individual churches plenty of freedom, within the general confines of, for lack of a better term, Evangelical doctrine. The motto that our church aspires to live by is, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, Charity.”

I have been involved in music within the church since I was able to sing alto in the choir. Violin has been my musical love since age 7, but I also fill in where needed on assorted stringed instruments.

6. What social issues are you most passionate about?

I care about a wide variety of issues, most of which have or will find their way into my blog.

What I would say is that I believe that too many of us (on both ends of the political spectrum) take the easy route and make our “social issues” either a matter of moralizing to others or of demanding that the government do this or that.

I say, put your money and your time where your mouth is. Get out and volunteer. Give of your own resources. Get to know people outside of your little socioeconomic or religious box. Spend more time helping others than whining about what they do or do not do.

(Bonus fact here. Did you know that the Law is the only profession that is expected to spend time on volunteer work? It is actually in our code of professional conduct. Others, such as doctors, and I imagine, even architects, do volunteer, but we are actively expected to do so.)

7. Are you a foodie?

Yes. Very much a foodie. Even worse, I come from a long line of foodies. My paternal grandfather was an Army cook - by all accounts a good one - and he started my paternal family’s tradition that the men do the majority of the cooking duties for holidays. Yes, most of us can do a turkey, ham, roast, stuffing from scratch (we dry our own bread), pies. My dad is an excellent cook as well. He actually had to teach my mom how to cook, since her parents never did. (She learned fast. We ate well.)

I started cooking when I was short enough to need a chair to get up to the level of the stove. By age ten, I could cook a couple of meals by myself. Even then, I messed around with my recipes, and measured spices by taste rather than teaspoons.

By my teens, I was regularly cooking about once a week, and doing much of the grocery shopping (along with my siblings - who also cook well). I informed my future wife that I expected to be an equal in the kitchen. If she was unwilling to accept that, she could look elsewhere. Fortunately, she liked my cooking. We still share the kitchen, each cooking half the time on average. She is an excellent cook in her own right, so our family eats very well indeed.

I am thoroughly enjoying sharing this love of food and cooking with my kids. (I have a higher tolerance for kid induced chaos in the kitchen than my wife.)

8. What is your favorite color?

As a kid, my unequivocal answer would have been “green.” More specifically, I loved Sea Green from the large Crayola set. But all greens were good. I probably haven’t changed that much. I love the greens of nature. All the greens from the sage green of the desert to the painful green of the rainforest. I love the way that a forest changes from one green to another with the changes in altitude. I love the way that pines, firs, cedars, and sequoias each have a different and distinct green that is visible even a mile away.

I also have a thing for red, however. I think trucks should be red. (Yes, I own a red truck.) I like red ties. I like chile peppers of all kinds. I like red roses and fresh tomatoes still warm from the summer sun.

Unsurprisingly, I like Christmas decorations. Always have, and probably always will. Also The Holly and the Ivy.

9. What other stuff do you like?

Books. Poetry. Music. Especially music. Cats. Growing stuff. Working up a good sweat. Hiking. Running. Soccer. Being alone to think. Spending time with true friends. Good metaphors. Bad puns. Acid wit. Proper use of apostrophes. Semicolons. Caves. Mythbusters. Roller coasters. Fireworks. The mountains. The smell, look, and feel of real wood. Meteor showers. Vacuum tubes. Marmots. Irises of all kinds, but particularly bearded. Manual transmissions. Cheering for the underdog - particularly a short one. Condors and other huge birds. British authors with funny names that use their initials instead. Insects, snakes, spiders, and creepy-crawlies of all kinds. Baroque musical instruments.

Speaking of things that I like...


  1. Totally agree with you on the reason for homeschooling except substitute "the beach" or "the woods" for "Disneyland" which you would have to pay me a very large some of money to go near.

  2. I loved your thoughts on parenthood and homeschooling, both things I'm passionate about.

    I had to laugh about your red truck. It must be a color men love for vehicles. My husband picked both of our vehicles out and they are red.

  3. Even though I didn't get around to writing my own post, I am enjoying getting to know others who frequently interact on Carrie's blog. I very much enjoyed your post.

    I especially appreciated your little aside regarding social issues.

  4. Very fun post! (I read it yesterday but am finally back to comment.) I like your follow-up question to the "how many kids" question. HA!

    I also am greatly amused again (this morning's second reading) re: the lack of internet privacy. Quit dashing illusions, man!

    I think I deleted my answer to my favorite color and replaced it with another. In any case, my favorite color is green because it in Texas everything was BROWN and green, to me, meant life and beauty. Still like it! (Then again I also like the color chocolate brown but that's different than the dead kind of brown that Texas was.)

    You could pay me a lot of money or none at all to go to Disney any day of the week! (Except, I discovered, over Christmas holidays. Fun. Once.)