Sunday, April 5, 2009

With a last name like Mollenhauer, it has to be short

My family name, Mollenhauer, is German. It was also usually the longest name on the roster throughout school except for one - Riemenschneider. So, having grown up filling out those little test forms where the circles above the letters were often just a couple short, and seeing my test results for "Mollenhauer, Shanno", name length was a conscious criteria when JoLynn and I first started talking about names over 3 years ago.

Adam's name was decided on first. We talked about names we liked, didn't like, brainstormed a list of candidates, and narrowed it down fairly quick. Adam rose to the top because it was short, didn't have too many negative connotations, and except for ending in "m" so his first and last name might run together if not enunciated well, met the criteria.

His middle name, Joseph, is in honor of JoLynn's father, Joseph B. Laughary, who passed away when she was just 4 years old. JoLynn asked if my dad would feel slighted at not getting name rights and I said "are you kidding? He gets my dad's name by default - Mollenhauer! Besides, since my dad goes by his middle name, George, I was pretty sure he wouldn't be offended by not passing on his first name. And, honestly, I couldn't name my kid Merle, anyway! :)

Adam is also the only male Mollenhauer in this part of our bloodline since my cousin Clarence, Jr., has an adopted son who doesn't look German at all. :) He's doing his part to pass on the family name, just not our genetic defects (which also means the boy has a good head of hair). As my firstborn son, Adam, is our first little man. I also hope he will thank us, as I thanked my parents, for not naming him Christopher. (no offense to all the Christopher's out there, but sticking that in front of Mollenhauer is borderline cruel to a kid just learning how to print their name, don't you think?!)

Sara Makenzie may sound kind of familiar to anyone who watched CBS drama shows in the 90's and early 2000's. But first let me point out that her name is also short. Even though her middle name is hefty, I think she'll be quite content, hopefully thankful, that we chose "Sara." We left off the "h" because both spellings are commonly seen on name tags, bicycle license plates, and gift shop junk, so that wasn't an issue. From parents named Shannon and JoLynn, finding personalized items off the rack was actually a benefit we hoped the kids would appreciate.

I also like to borrow a remark from a comedian who said his wife's name was Sarah with an "h" and it was just like her to keep something else she had no use for like a lot of the stuff she bought. I say she's already got enough letters in her last name, one more would be overkill.

Sara's middle name, Makenzie, obviously has many variations, but since it's not going on a name tag, we just picked the version we thought would add flair without being obnoxious to spell over the phone to someone. Sherie Hittinger gets credit for suggesting the combination to JoLynn one day in a conversation when we said "we've got boys' names, but are not making much progress on girls yet." We didn't name her after the Biblical Sarah, even though JoLynn was over 30 when Sara and Adam were born (that's nowhere near 99), and we didn't name her after the several Sara(h)s we know at church or work (although JoLynn's boss thought it was cool, I don't think she's getting a bonus for the surprise). And, we didn't specifically name her after Catherine Bell's character on the TV show JAG because we were enamored with her character. But, we did like her personality and character and I have no complaints about her looks.

So, that's the story of our kids' names.

In case you're wondering - JoLynn's name is the blend of her parents' names - Joseph and Marilynn. Her other combination could've been MariJo. I think the one she's got works well.

My name, Shannon, was because my parents knew a guy in Arkansas who was kind to them in their impoverished newlywed days and they liked the name (at least that's how I remember the story, but this is subject to correction after reviewing it with my parents). So even in 1967 there were already guys named Shannon, and no one in Ireland looks at me funny when they hear my first name.

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