The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Prescott, AZ

After Kyle finished his doctorate degree in 2013, and until he got a tenure-track teaching position, we were free to move somewhere else if we wanted to do so. We thus moved out west to Prescott, AZ for a high school teaching job I had been offered. The teaching job did not pan out (long story!), so we sadly only spent one month in Prescott. Even so, this town was one of the cutest, most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and I look forward to hopefully going back there again someday on vacation.

Here are ten names inspired by the Prescott, AZ area:

The boys’ name Bradshaw (Brad-shaw) has a fun and sporty vibe. Possible nicknames: Brad, Addis, and Shaw.

In the month we lived in Prescott, Kyle and I took advantage of the many wonderful in-town hiking trails. One of our favorites was the Brownlow Trail at Pioneer Park. As a boys’ name, Brownlow (Brown-low) joins a host of names ending in -low, such as Winslow, Marlow, and Barlow.

The small town of Black Canyon City lies about midway between Prescott and the Phoenix metro area. Since nature names are trending hard right now, I’ve actually seen the gender-neutral name Canyon (Can-yin) floating around a bit on the baby name boards I frequent, though mostly as a middle name rather than a first name.

Another small town outside Prescott is Dewey-Humboldt, one of the only hyphenated town names I’ve ever seen. According to Nameberry, Dewey (Do-ee) is a Welsh boys’ name meaning “beloved.” And, since Dewey is a variation of David, this name is a terrific option for those who want a unique name but also want to honor someone in their family with the commonplace name David.

One of the campuses of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is located in Prescott. This campus is actually where I had the start of my teacher training. It is also the location where I met my first (but certainly not my last) wild tarantula! The gender-neutral name Embry (Em-bree) is a nice alternative to other popular names with a similar sound and feel, such as Emily, Emory, Emmy, Ember, and Embric.

The second part of the aforementioned town Dewey-Humboldt, this is a name I feel a little lukewarm about. While Humboldt (Hum-bolt) is definitely unique, it sounds a bit too much like “humbug” to me. Also, while I originally thought Bolt was a kind of cool nickname, I think I know in my heart of hearts that Bolt is really more of a dog name than a human name.

Paxton (Pax-tin) was one of my top-ten boys’ name picks when naming my own son. But this name is now also gaining popularity as a girls’ name. Paxton means “peace town,” and I love Pax as a short and sweet nickname.

I like that the stately boys’ name Piedmont (Peed-mont) also has the cutesy nickname option of Monty. The obvious trouble with this name, though, is that it starts with the sound “pee” / “peed.” (Let’s face it: kids can be cruel, and they are also obsessed with bodily functions…) If you’re worried about that connection, perhaps the variant Piermont would work nicely.

Though the name of this town in Arizona is pronounced Press-kit, I prefer the traditional pronunciation for this preppy boys’ name: Press-cot.

Another boys’ name with an aristocratic air to it, Stanton (Stan-tin) strikes me as a unique but slightly more mainstream choice than another name I’ve discussed on this blog before: Scranton. Stan or Anton are nickname choices.

Photo credit: Kevin Dooley

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Maryland / D.C. Area

After I got my B.A. in English from Marywood, I went to graduate school at University of Maryland in College Park, MD (just outside of Washington, D.C). Getting my M.A. opened many doors for me and helped me get experience teaching college students, a job role I loved. And, on a personal level, my time at UMD led me to many of the dearest friends that I know I’ll have for a lifetime, including my wonderful husband, Kyle.

Even though I was only a student at UMD for two years, I spent six years in the MD / D.C. while Kyle completed his PhD. As such, I got to know this area really well and have so many great memories from a variety of locations in this region.

Here are some of my favorite names inspired by my time in Maryland.

For the majority of my time in MD, I lived in the city of Greenbelt. One of my favorite places to go there was Lake Artemesia, a park with a lovely lakeside walking trail. The girls’ name Artemesia (Art-uh-mee-shuh) is a long, beautiful name with lots of cute nickname options, like Artie, Emma, Mia, or Sia.

As one of the world’s biggest David Bowie fans, I was so excited the first time I drove past a sign for the town of Bowie. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that the town is actually pronounced Boo-ee! But, for the purposes of using Bowie as a (boys’ or girls’) name, I’m going to pronounce it like the singer (Bow-ee).

Dupont (Do-pont) Circle is one of the most hipster areas of D.C., as I already covered in my previous blog post about baby names inspired by beer.

As noted above, I lived in Greenbelt for the majority of my time in MD. And while Green might seem like a stretch for a baby name, Blue has become pretty popular as a name, so why not Green? Green is also my favorite color, so perhaps I’m a little biased.

Hyattsville was one of the places I went often, particularly because it had a decent movie theater and several good restaurants. Hyatt (Hi-it) is kind of a fun alternative to the wildly-popular boys’ name Wyatt.

During my first year in Maryland, I rented a room in a house in a town called Lanham. Stories of “the Lanham House” are notorious among me and my friends Matt (former roomie at Lanham House) and Erin, in large part because the landlords were kind of weird, lurky, racist and sexist old people who loved getting up in our business. As a baby name, Lanham (Lan-um) has a posh feel and could work well for a boy or girl.

In addition to teaching at UMD, I also got to teach at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC), located in Largo, MD. Another thing I loved that was also in Largo was my favorite grocery store of all time, Wegmans! I actually really love the name Largo (Lar-go), for a boy or a girl.

There were several libraries on the huge, sprawling UMD campus. But the main library was McKeldin Library (shown in the featured picture for this blog), a place I spent A LOT of time in during my time as a student and teacher at UMD. As a (gender-neutral) name, McKeldin (Muh-kell-din) joins a long line of Mc names. And I love so many of the nickname options, though Mickey and Kell are probably my favs.

I have many ties to Silver Spring, MD. First, I drove through it every day on my way to work for the three years I worked in D.C. Second, Kyle’s Buddhist temple in MD was in Silver Spring. And third, my friend Lauren and her family still reside there. Another great, gender-neutral name, Silver has both a peaceful / hippy feel and a tough, badass feel all at the same time.

Tawes Hall was the really nice, brand-new building that the English Department moved to while I was a student at UMD. This new location was a major upgrade from the English Department’s previous home in Susquehanna Hall, where 70s-style decor was thriving and where all grad students who were teaching had their “offices” in a single, open space called “the bullpen.” Tawes (Toz) could work well for a boy or girl, though I tend to think of it as a boys’ name for some reason.

And here are many more fantastic MD / DC-inspired names:

Photo credit: carmichaellibrary 

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Oceanside, CA

After my semester of isolation at Kutztown, I decided I needed a drastic change. At the time, my Aunt Grace, Uncle Al, and cousins Brooklyn and Anthony lived in California. So, I dropped out of college, packed up my stuff, and moved to CA. One of the best parts of this move was actually the drive out. My Uncle Rich drove with me, and that road trip–especially our stop at the Grand Canyon–was one of the most fun, memorable times of my life!

In CA, I lived in Oceanside, a beach town a bit north of San Diego. I lived with my family for a couple of months before getting a job and my own apartment. I spent a ton of time at the beach, since I only lived a mile away from the ocean. (I mean, the town is called Oceanside for a reason!). And I reveled in the opportunity to spend some time getting to know my CA family better.

I was in Oceanside for a year, and my brother Johnny actually came and lived with me for the last few months of my time there. This was an interesting period in my life; by striking out on my own, I began to learn how to take care of myself and started understanding a bit more about who I am. I consider this year of my life to have been a time of great personal progress and discovery.

Please enjoy these names inspired by my year of life on the West coast!

Spanish for “pretty,” Bonita (Bow-nee-tuh) has a lovely sound and several great nickname possibilities, like Bonnie, Ona, or Nita.

While living in CA, I worked at a beautiful resort called La Costa Resort and Spa, located in Carlsbad. Carl or Arlin are possible nicknames.

I’ve been kind of obsessed with the name Diego (Dee-ay-go) lately. Not sure why, but there it is.

In Spanish, Encinitas (En-sih-nee-tiss) means “little oaks.” Encinitas was one of the most quaint little beach towns I’ve ever seen, and it has some of my favorite restaurants in the area. I really like Cini or Sidney as nickname choices.

Meaning “plateau” or “table,” Mesa (May-suh) would be a really cute girls’ name, specially as a middle name.

Inspired by the town I lived in, Oceanside, the name Ocean has long been popular with hippies and other nature-loving parents. Even so, this name has yet to break into the U.S. top 1,000.

Oceanside is a military town (Marines), and the base in Oceanside is called Camp Pendleton. I love any name that can have the nickname Penn.

If I was being objective, I would have left Ramona (Ruh-mo-nuh) off this list, since it is far too well-known a name to be considered “truly unique.” But I just adore the name, so here it sits. (Ramona was high on my baby name list before we knew we were having a boy, but Kyle never liked it, so it would have gotten the axe eventually…)

This is probably my favorite name on this list. Not only does Solana (So-la-nuh) sound lovely, but I adore the meaning too: “sunshine.” Sola or Lana are great nickname options.

Vista (Vis-tuh) is another name with both a lovely sound and a pretty meaning (“view”). I like Vi as a nickname for Vista.

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Kutztown, PA

My path to getting my undergraduate degree was pretty convoluted. I switched majors three times and transferred four times (between three schools). I’ve already written a bit about my time at University of Miami and Marywood University. The third college I attended–for a single semester–was Kutztown University in Kutztown, PA. This time in my life was a very lonely one. I didn’t make a single friend at Kutztown, and I didn’t get out much. As such, I don’t have any personal connections to the area. Nevertheless, the Kutztown region did produce some great possible baby names, listed below.


Photo credit: the_great_nanners