Assalamu Alaikum Sisters:
sky_and_lavendar--I'm glad you're enjoying those talks. Alhamdullilah, it's becoming easier to find things in English. I remember when I first reverted many many moons ago, the only thing I could find was this Introduction to Islam TV program that used to be on Maryland Public TV (I think) once per week. (Might have been a different station.)
Welcome ZakareyasMama. :)
As for names, I remember reading that as long as it's a good name, it's OK. I've never had any trouble with girl names (although we only have one DD)... boys have been more difficult, because we've been trying to walk the line between easy for people here to pronounce (as well as my family), Muslim, and not being too much of a no-fly list name. Let's see....girls... Sara, Zara, Aisha, Aminah/Aamina, Khadija, Jamilla, Jehan, Jannah, Basimah, Afaf, Iman, Maram, Halimah, etc.
Regarding salat/wudu during menstruation, honestly, I hate having to stop praying because I do feel cut off. Especially if my prayer has been going really well, it's hard to stop...and then get going again. I think the key is to remember that you are still supposed to make du'a--so take the time to make du'a during the regular salat time if it helps you. I also have a book of pieces of the Qur'an in English only which I read... or listen to stuff on my iPod. I try to look at the prohibition as a gift from Allah(swt)--and accept it with gratitude. I remember having horrible periods in my teens--and I couldn't imagine praying or doing anything during those times.