What’s in a Name Part Two: Tell Me What You Think

Okay, so there are a lot of options here, but that’s part of our problem.  Of course Justin and I are going to give Biscuit the name that we feel best fits her, but I want to know what all of you think about some of our choices.  You can choose as many names as you like–you aren’t limited to just one.  And leave comments about why you like certain names, or dislike others.  I am super intrigued to see what results!  🙂



So…What’s In a Name? Or, How to Impress Your Kids with the Suggestion that You Might be a Superhero

We are all about names right now in the Hopkins House.  We already have a dog with a ridiculous name (a Scottish terrier named The Baron Augustus von StuderBraeden who we call “Stoobie” for short), and have a nearly endless list of potential cat names.

And, in case I haven’t already made it abundantly clear, I am five months pregnant with my first child.   Almost right away we knew that we would need a nickname for our baby, so that we could refer to it without, well, calling it “it.”  Indiana and Scarlet had been called Squirt and Squid (in fact, their mom still calls them this), and I remember friends calling their growing babies names such as Peanut, Meatball, Nugget, Anchovie (gross!), and other adorable and descriptive names.  At the suggestion of a dear friend, we settled on Biscuit.   Baby Biscuit.

We found out a week ago that we were having a little girl (that’s three daughters for us!), and Justin and I were trying to come up with a creative way to tell Indiana and Scarlet they have a baby sister on the way.  Baby Girl Biscuit!  We decided to buy our first outfit for Biscuit, making sure it was obviously feminine so they would know the gender right away.  The outfit was strawberry themed.  The girls squealed when they saw it, and Scarlet immediately suggested that we name Biscuit “Strawberry Shortcake.”   Ahem.  May I please refer all of you to my previous post about cat names?  Yes, my kids want to name our new baby Strawberry Shortcake.  After the doll, not the dessert.

[We actually posted a picture of the outfit on Facebook to announce to our friends and family that we were having a girl, and, without knowing the girls’ suggestion,  my wonderful cousin Michelle pointed out that she was now going to have to refer to Biscuit as Strawberry.  “Ms. Strawberry Biscuit,” I corrected her.]

Scarlet’s middle name is Faith, and she and Indiana became fixated on the triple grouping of the words/phrases “Faith, Hope, and Love.”  They lamented that Indiana’s middle name was not “Love” (it’s “Rose”), but said that this grevious error could be corrected if we named Biscuit “Honey Hope Hopkins.”  [You do not even want to know what the first Google image result is for “Honey Hope”…]  Unfortunately, I cannot wipe the thought of the original Bond Girl, Honey Rider, portrayed so well by Ursula Andress.  You remember, don’t you?  …

Oh God, please don’t let this be my daughter.

Yeah.  Ouch.

Another random, almost instant suggestion from Scarlet was “Lindsey.”  I’m not sure where that one came from, but it’s so…normal…I don’t quite know how to respond.  She is also convinced that the four of us will be voting on Biscuit’s name.  Justin and I both stifled laughter, and he calmly pointed out that our family was not a democracy.  When she screwed up her face in confusion,  we quickly assured her that we would take all names “under advisement.”

Names are important.  But we know that, don’t we?  Names seem to carry so much weight, so much meaning.  Names, for better or for worse, define who we are.  Sara means “Princess” in Hebrew.  This always embarrassed me growing up…but I have to admit that, at least with my parents and my husband, this name rings true.  [Not sure if I should have actually confessed that…oh well, no going back now!]

Sara (or Sarah) was an outrageously popular name when I was growing up (although I was given this name because of a prophetic dream my mother had).  There was always some other girl named Sara/h in the vicinity.  I sometimes felt nameless as a result–I didn’t have a name that stood out enough.  Plus, Sara was already so short it didn’t lend itself to any cute nicknames.  I was ridiculously jealous of girls named Jessica (who could be called “Jess” or “Jessi/e”), Jennifer (who could be called “Jen” or “Jennie/y”), or Samantha (who could be called “Sam” or “Sammy”).  Sigh.  It was tough.  So, so tough.

So then I focused on wanting a new name, something that would make me glow with…unique difference [yes, I know that’s redundant, but that is actually a phrase I thought about as a child–I thought I was being especially descriptive.]  Two names topped my list:


Isn’t Ariel just the most wonderful, beautiful, amazing, lyrical name you’ve ever heard?! You agree? Oh, lovely! (PLUS, I’m an amazing singer, so the choice is OBVIOUS.)


You know, from Fiddler on the Roof, my other favorite movie.  TZEITEL.  Just listen to that awesome TZ combination as it rolls (or sparks, maybe) off the tongue.  Pay no attention to Tzeitel’s horrified face.  Really.  That is not a clue as to what a horrible idea this is.

Girl, you craaaazy.

Yeah.  Ariel and Tzeitel.  Suddenly Scarlet and Indiana’s suggestions don’t sound so bad, do they?  You know what’s even crazier?  Tzeitel, it turns out, is actually the Yiddish diminutive form of the name Sarah.

It  really didn’t take too long for me learn to love my name.  Especially since my last name was so short (Shea).  Together, my first and last names were only three syllables.  Sara Shea.  Then I started thinking that perhaps my name was pretty badass, whatwith the alliteration and all. Maybe my parents knew what they were doing when they named me.  My mom called me by my full name when she was especially proud of me, or pleased, instead of when I was in trouble.  “Sara Shea” became a signal of something good, instead of something punitive.  I started referring to my name as my superhero-secret-identity name on account of the alliteration, like Peter Parker, or Clark Kent.  I felt powerful.  So with my name, and children already named AWESOME names like Indiana and Scarlet, I am feeling a lot of pressure to find the.best.possible.name. for Ms. Strawberry Biscuit.

Fast-forward (or is it rewind?) to last Monday when I was driving the girls to school, and they mentioned that their mom had taken them to see The Avengers over the weekend.  They rattled off minutia about the plot, mentioning superhero after superhero, and then started talking about all the other superhero movies they have seen.

“Do you know what the Hulk’s real name is?” I asked.

They both faltered.

“Bruce Banner,” I told them.

“Oh, you mean DOCTOR Bruce Banner,” Indiana corrected.

“What is Spiderman’s real name?”

“Uhhhhh…Peter Parker!”

I quizzed them on Superman, and Cyclops from the X-Men (Scott Summers).  I explained how it was very common for superheroes (and other comic book characters) to have fun alliterative names (I also had to explain what alliteration was).  I mentioned J. Jonah Jameson and Otto “Dr. Octopus” Octavius from Spiderman; Warren Worthington III, better known as Angel, from X-Men; Lois Lane and Lex Luthor from Superman; and Susan Storm (the Invisible Woman) and Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) from The Fantastic Four.  The girls were enthralled, trying to think of other alliterative superhero names.

“Hey guys?”  I asked.  “What was my name before I married Daddy?”  I may or may not have been grinning mischievously.

“Sara Shea,” Indiana answered immediately.

And then her jaw hit the floor.

“Ohmygodwhatisyoursuperpower?” she asked.

“I can’t tell you.  It’s a secret,” I smirked.

Both Indiana and Scarlet were bouncing in their seats with this news.

We pulled up at the girls’ school.  I kissed them goodbye, and they off they ran to their respective classrooms.

I could hear Indiana muttering, “Sara Shea Sara Shea Sara Shea,” as she turned the corner.

I tucked my cape back below my collar.

The Only List of Cat Names You Will Ever Need

Seriously. They don’t get any better than this.

Sometimes the only way to explain a family dynamic is to just get out all of the embarrassing (and wonderful) details.   I am the giddy stepmother to two amazing girls, Indiana (nearly 10 years old) and Scarlet (just turned 7).  Part of what is awesome about our relationship is that I very rarely refer to them as my stepchildren, and just refer to them as my daughters.  They, in turn, usually call me their “other mom” when describing me to other people, because, as they once explained, I’m way too nice to be a stepmom.   These labels suit us just fine.

In terms of other labels…well…it has long been a joke in our little family that the girls are not very good candidates for name selection.  For years and years all of their stuffed animals and toys have had “obvious” names relating to color, texture, or species, with few exceptions.  We have several toys named Blackie, Snowball, Fluffy, Marshmellow, Brownie, Beary, Horsey, Bunny, BunBun, Doggie, Stripey, PolkaDot, Blondie…The only “regular” name that appears is Sophie–but Sophie is the moniker of easily four different toys.

Now that we are expecting a new, human addition to our family, we have giggled that the girls would probably want to name the baby Baby McBabersons.  Actually, there will be another post (maybe) about names the girls have suggested for their impending baby sister, but if you look at the list above (and the list below) you might be able to garner a guess at what will be included.

So what, exactly, is the list included below?  One evening during dinner, Justin, Indiana, Scarlet, and I had a discussion about whether or not it would be fun to get our dog, The Baron Augustus von StuderBraeden (aka Stoobie) a cat.  This discussion quickly devolved into the four of us coming up with a list of potential names for our potential (but highly unlikely) cat.  The names were coming so fast, and were so ridiculous, that Justin and I were in danger of peeing our pants with laughter.  The vast majority of these names were the girls’ suggestions, and each and every one of them was a serious submission.  So without further adieu, I give you the only list of cat names you will ever need.  You can thank me later.

Muffincandy Mike
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Mr. Fluffypants
Farts (or Sir Fartsabunch)
The Earl of Duke Rochester III
Murder Death Kill (MDK)
Jar Jar Binks
“The Pop Star, Curtains”
Fluffy Pirate
Max, the Cat with 2 Legs
Squinty, the Cat with 1 Eye
Sgt. Cuddles
Chariman Meow
Rhode Island
Indiana Jones
Sgt. Mike Muffincandy
Baseball Manicure
Horton Hears a Who
3 of 9
Ceiling Cat
Sandy the Talking Cat
Payton Manning
Carrot Soup
Can we name the cat Britney Spears?
Meowmor Gadhafi
Ice Cube
Ed Grimley
Striiiiiiike 3!
Dancer Prancer
Catalina Wine Mixer
Gary Lee Franklin
Paws for Concern
Paws Buttons
Basket of Robins
Go Finnish
Pius VI
Gramma Rose
Top Chef
Sweetie Pie
Chicken Pot Pie
Nick Pagageorgio from Yuma, Arizona

In Which Our Heroine Considers Posting For the First Time in 3 Years, Has a Mini-Panic Attack, and Forgets Everything She Wanted to Say

Well, then.

Thank you for joining me.  For some of you, this will be familiar territory (seriously, you can smell the Vox in here!).  For others: get out while you still can.  Oh wait, I should have said something much more witty and literary in order to prove how smart and well-read and educated I am (and therefore justifying all of my student-loan debt).  Therefore:

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate“, or “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”  That’s about all I remember from Dante’s Inferno (and I totally had to look up the fancy non-English words).

[PS – I really remember more about The Divine Comedy than that, but since this is my first blog post in FOREVER, and since the title of the post indicates that I am having a mini-panic attack, let us come to an understanding that I am going to include a lot of asides, post-scripts, parenthetical confessions, and other eye-rolling intrusions at any given time–and they may or may not continue when if I decide to continue blogging at all.  Which is to say, I feel the need to be both self-depricating and a little braggy when it come to my literature background.  Especially considering that nothing in my current day-to-day life supports that background.  Wow, um, I went off on a tangent, didn’t I?  How embarrassing!  Let’s hope I can get this back on track…]

So: WELCOME BACK!  or if you’ve never been here before: WELCOME!

How about some quick explanation?

I blogged pretty consistently many years ago, starting on blogger (that one is now missing), and eventually on (of all places) MySpace. MySpace was actually a fun place to blog because I met a lot of really cool writers and even got myself featured in some start-up literary mags.  Back then I was still writing about one to two poems a day, and had notebooks piled on the floor filled with scribbles and musings and all manner of  writerly “stuff.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t really have a relationship that supported positive and creative thinking, so I had to start being secretive about my writing.  So, I started blogging over on the now-defunct platform, Vox, which was a part of TypePad, which, incidentally, was started by some people I went to high school with.  I loved Vox, and posted on a fairly regular basis.  I got to know some amazing people, several of who I am still in contact with to this day (and I am so excited to be able to witness all of our life journeys!), and was able to write about some pretty intense struggles (the death of my brother, my transplant surgeries, the destruction of my first marriage, and the falling-in-love-every-second-story of meeting and marrying the love of my life, Justin)–all while being lovingly supported.

When I started graduate school in early 2009, however, I didn’t have time to post at all, and my writing dwindled.  This was concurrent with the slow and painful death of Vox, and when Vox “vanished” I was so caught up in school and my new family that I just didn’t have the energy to do much more than import that blog here to WordPress (and TypePad, but I don’t like that platform as much), with the hopes that one day I would start it up again.


It has been three years since the last time I posted, and really about four years since I was regularly blogging (if you could even call it blogging–keeping a public journal, more like it).  I never realized that graduate school would take up so much brain space.  I also underestimated the power of the Writer’s Block that I have been suffering since Tim died (but that will hopefully be a post saved for a later time).  I don’t know if I am ready for this.

I have been teasing myself and my friends for quite a while now on Facebook that I am going to get back into blogging. I know there are a few of you who are 100% committed to reading anything and everything that I write, and for that I thank you.  You have urged me to turn my status updates that discuss “The-Blog-That-I-Write-In-My-Mind” into a real blog.  So…here goes!

You can actually see that the archives here contain the entirety of my Vox blog.  It is absolutely not necessary to go back and look at all of that (and I’m not even sure if all of the photos and other media transferred correctly), but I thought, at least for the time being, that I would keep this all connected, so it wouldn’t feel quite so scary starting on a completely blank blog.

My fingers are literally shaking right now.  My palms are sweaty.  This is not unlike the first time I met my husband…This first post is longer than I anticipated, but hopefully it’s enough to get me going (and maybe keep me going?).

Ok, I better publish this before I pass out.


I haven't blogged in a long time, and I have been very bad about keeping up before that as well.  I never thought grad school would be so all-consuming, but it is.  I am doing well, and am discovering that I am pretty dang talented at this teaching thing. However, I haven't done anything creative, in terms of writing, in a long time.  Perhaps I need to make the effort to blog more so that I don't feel quite so lost.  And it's not that I feel lost in the sense that I have no direction, because I certainly know where I am going.  But I rarely think about blogging anymore, and that makes me feel sad. 

I am, however, SUPER SUPER excited about the wedding, which is less than two months away!

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Arts Retreat, Rainbow Lodge, North Bend, WA 3/31/09

Struggling with art
with movement, with song, with voice…
feeling impotent.

I cannot do this.
And yet here I go, trembling.
I'm afraid to fall.

Wish I could do that.
Wish I could capture this skill.
Wish I own'd my fear.

These colors, this touch,
consume me, challenge my space.
Still: recognition.

Wait.  Something blossoms.
A flowering song, a dance.
Oil pastels on fingers.

What is this, inside?
This learning about learning?
This dramatic sky?

See my dancing smile.
Hear my speaking, singing heart.
Touch my culture soul.

Drum me beyond fear.
Eat this beauty that teaches.
Swallow this dance jive.

Gathered unto me,
I shine with diversity.
I twinkle with art.

I will spread such joy,
I will witness creation.
I will teach such voice.

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I wrote this while observing a middle school language arts classroom this last spring.  The kids were writing poetry, and while I didn't have to share, or really even write, this is what I came up with.  Hey, better than nothing…

I am daughter, sudden-mother,
sister, subject-friend,
pompous student, lover lover.
I am cat-and-mouse,
I play at house,
I am sometimes dishes
and always dinner.
I am forgetful birthday and sunshine frown,
rainy grin and upside down.
I am nervous Nellie and silly Sally,
Peeping Tom and Dilly Dally.
Late late late
I am always late
even on time I am always late.
I am writing reader
and reading writer,
I'm a quiet girl
who's still a fighter.
I am screaming, speaking
telling, yelling,
I am great at spelling.
One-time hopscotch, double-dutch,
not enough movement:
I read too much.
over-easy, underhanded,
top-notch student now disbanded.

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