Georgia O’Keeffe’s siblings

Claire emailed me not too long ago to share the names of artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s siblings, which she had come across while working on a project. I was delighted to read them too! Claire said she didn’t know if Georgia was Catholic or not, but thought her siblings’ names might provide a clue. Especially, I would argue, one sibling in particular — her brother, Francis Calyxtus, Jr.

Francis Calyxtus! I love it! (I spotlighted Callixtus here.) A bold middle name is always such a treat!

Here’s the whole family (source):

Georgia Totto (named for her grandfather, George Totto; Totto was her mother’s maiden name)
Francis Calyxtus, Jr.
Ida Ten Eyck (their mother was Ida Ten Eyck Totto)
Anita Ten Eyck
Alexis Wyckoff “Tex” (love Tex as a nickname for the Alex names!)
Catherine Blanche
Claudia Ruth

They’re all saintly, but that Francis Calyxtus is really what cements it, don’t you agree?

I looked into her religious affiliation, and while she unfortunately didn’t live her adult life as the kind of role model a devout Catholic would hope for, this site did say about her painting Black Iris III:

The iris is a familiar image in Western art, frequently used in Christian iconography; its swordlike leaves were especially employed as a symbol for Mary’s suffering, a pictorial metaphor which might also have been familiar to O’Keeffe from her Catholic upbringing and her parochial schooling.”

I love when a name can totally identify a person or family as Catholic!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

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Birth announcement: Edmund Alphonsus!

I posted a consultation and birth announcement for Monica’s last baby, and she’s let me know she’s had another wonderful boy, given the so-handsome name … Edmund Alphonsus!

Monica writes,

I was reading the consult Abby did for you and thought you’d appreciate hearing our newest babe’s name. You did a consult for us for our last child (Fulton Michael). I intended to ask for one for this baby too, but we are crazy and decided to build a house mid pregnancy so I have barely been able to remember to tie my shoes and totally spaced it until it was too late. 😆

Our other kids are —
Cora Marie
Levi Alphonsus (with Jesus)
Regina Marie
Fulton Michael

And our newest — Edmund Alphonsus

What a great bunch of kids! And I love that they used Alphonsus again, as he’s Monica’s husband’s favorite saint. ❤

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Edmund!!

image2 (3)

Edmund Alphonsus

Baby name consultation: Green bean needs a name that evokes “hope” or “blessing”

I had the great privilege of posting a birth announcement for Lea’s little guy a little over two years ago, and I’m delighted to post this consultation for her newest baby today!

Lea writes,

We have 3 sons here and 4 children in heaven. Here are their names:

James Pershing
Paul Raymond
Luke Gordon

Agnes, Eli, Isaac, and Nicholas

The boys are named with a first name that we liked and their middle names are after 3 of the 4 grandfathers of my husband and me. The final grandfather was named Victor and we’d like to use his name for the middle name of a boy.

Paul is after Bl Paul VI and Luke is a nod to Mary and St Gianna. James was simply a name we both liked.

I am looking for some names of each gender that are unique. I like Jude for a boy but my husband isn’t keen.

Some other info, we lost our Nicholas on December 6 2017, so a name meaning hope or blessing would also be good for either gender.

I’m not due until September and we won’t be finding out the gender before the birth.”

I so enjoyed working on a consultation for another of Lea’s babies! I love the name Victor, and think it makes a great middle name. I’ve always liked that it can nod to Jesus, as He is Victorious, and Lea and her husband can think of it having extra meaning for them in the sense of Jesus being a victor by conquering death, which is a nice meaning for this baby following the loss of their Nicholas.

I started the consultation by looking up names that mean “hope” or “blessed”/ “blessing, and in doing so came across some that meant “gift” and “rainbow” as well, which I thought they might like to consider. The ones that I thought were possible contenders for this family I’ve included in my “official” suggestions below, but I wanted to include the other ones I found here, just in case (these were found by searching for key terms on behindthename.com, which I trust as far as name meanings go):

Names meaning “hope”
Girl
Nadia, Nadine — Nadia is Slavic and Nadine is French, but they both mean “hope.”

None found for boys

Names meaning “blessed” or “blessing”
Girl
Beata — this comes from the Latin for “blessed,” and is used to describe Our Lady in some Latin prayers.

Benedicta — as with Beata, this means “blessed” and points to Our Lady (I’ve always been interested that beata is used to describe her sometimes, and benedicta others — I’m not sure what the difference is? If any of you know, I’d love to hear it!).

Gwenfair or Mairwen — these Welsh names are some of my favorite finds! They’re actually the same name, with the elements reversed: Gwenfair is “white, fair, blessed” + the Welsh form of Mary (Mair), while Mairwen starts with Mary and the “white, fair, blessed” part is on the end. I think both are so lovely, though I can understand they may not be quite to Lea’s taste.

Boy
Asher — means “happy, blessed.”

Baruch — Baruch was a companion of the prophet Jeremiah, and his name means “blessed.”

Macarius — means “happy, blessed.”

Names meaning “gift”
Girl
Dorothea, Dorothy — I was torn on whether or not to include this in my list of official suggestions, but I had a lot of girl suggestions, so I decided to put it up here. Dorothy is a variant of Dorothea, which means “gift of God.”

Boy
Jesse — I might have liked to suggest this for this family, except I thought maybe it’s too close to the sounds of James? Otherwise, its meaning of “gift” is a great one.

Name meaning “rainbow”
Iris — it’s just too perfect that Iris means “rainbow” — such a perfect name for a rainbow baby!

I like all of the names here, but I didn’t feel like they really fit their style … although, Lea did say they were looking for “unique,” so maybe they’ll be perfect for them!

As for my official suggestions, I went to my trusty Baby Name Wizard, looking for style matches for all of the names Lea listed in her email: James, Paul, Luke, Agnes, Eli, Isaac, Nicholas, and Jude. I tried to err on the side of more unique when I was whittling down the results, and I also tried to be careful not to repeat suggestions from the previous consultation I did for them (it was supposed to post here, but Luke came before the date the post was scheduled! From that consultation, Gabriel and Peter still feel like great ideas for this family). Based on that, these are my ideas for Lea and her hubs:

Girl
(1) Annabel(le)
The Anna family of names were big for them in my research — Anna is a style match for James and Jude, Anita for Paul, and Hannah for Isaac. While I love Anna names (and St. Anne!), I didn’t think the ones I mentioned would fit Lea’s “unique” designation, but I thought Annabel/Annabelle might. It’s not technically an Anna name, arising in the Middle Ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is contained in the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable), but of course the fact that Anna is contained in it can definitely be a nod to St. Anne. In fact, they could think of it as Anna + belle, where belle means “beautiful” in French. How lovely! I love that it’s also a Marian name. I don’t feel like I have a good sense of their taste in girl names, so I don’t know if they’ll love it, but I really like it for them.

(2) Faith, Hope
Faith is actually a style match for Luke, and I liked it right away for this family, especially since Lea said they specifically wanted a name with a good meaning. Of course, it also made me think of Hope, which was the meaning she specifically wanted — I think both Hope and Faith are such sweet names! I know little girls with both names, and always find them charming.

(3) Felicity
Felicity means “happiness,” which is just perfect! It’s a gorgeous name, and not terribly common while still being familiar.

(4) Edith
Edith is a style match for Agnes, and I actually had it in mind for this family before I even saw it in my research! St. Edith Stein has been inspiring Catholic families to use Edith for their baby girls — she’s an amazing saint, and I’ve loved seeing her name on little ones like these (here and here). And could the nickname Edie be any cuter??

(5) Mariae, Mariah, Molly, Marigold, Miriam
There are many meanings given for the name of Mary, from not great ones like “bitter” and “rebellious,” to much nicer ones including “wished for child” and “beloved.” Since no one really seems to know for sure (though the academic sources seem to lean toward “beloved”), you can really pick which meaning speaks to you the most. And of course, ultimately, Our Lady as patron gives the name all the good meaning you could want. That said, I thought maybe one of the more unique forms of Mary might be intriguing to Lea and her hubs. Blogger Micaela Darr recently named her baby Mariae, pronounced MAR-ee-ay, which is Latin for “belonging to Mary” — I love that so much! (She found it in my book!) I’ve always had a soft spot for Mariah too. Molly has an Irish flavor; Marigold is both English (Downton Abbey!) and floral; and Miriam is biblical like Lea’s boys (though all the Mary names can technically be considered biblical). And there are a million more!

Boy
(1) Bennett
I think Bennett is my no. 1 choice for Lea and her hubs! I considered suggesting Benedict, which I love and which means “blessed,” but I thought maybe it was too heavy for them? (I’d be delighted to discover I’m wrong!) So I thought Bennett was perfect — it’s actually a medieval variant of Benedict, so it has the same meaning of “blessed” and can take the same patron saints, and I know two different sets of brothers named Luke and Bennett, so I really feel like it fits in well with Lea’s boys!

(2) Samuel
Biblical like Lea’s other boys, Samuel also has the great connection to the story of Hannah and Samuel in the bible. Samuel means “God has heard,” which of course is exactly in line with the Hannah and Samuel story and exactly in line with the blessing of this baby after Lea’s loss.

(3) Felix
Felix is the male variant of Felicity, which I listed above. It’s a pretty ancient name, so even though it’s not biblical, I think it can hang with the biblical names just fine.

(4) Pierce
Pierce is a form of Peter, and though I said above that I thought Peter was still a good idea for Lea and her hubs, I thought this different form deserved its own spot on the list. In fact, it’s not on this list because it’s a form of Peter, but because of its Marian meaning — I know of at least one little boy who was named Pierce because his mother had a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and how Mary’s heart would be “pierced by a sword.” I love that meaning so much — at first it might seem overly sad, but upon reflection, it really nods to Jesus’ victory over death, which gives the combo Pierce Victor extra meaning.

(5) Theodore
Finally, Theodore. Like Dorothea, Theodore means “gift of God” — so perfect! I like both Theo and Ted(dy) as nicknames.

There were a few I considered including but ultimately cross off my list for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Martin, Phoebe, Abigail, Veronica, and Gemma.

And those are all my ideas for Lea and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for both a boy and a girl?

We have some winners!!

You guys! You blew me away with your entries to the Mother’s Day giveaway! I loved reading each one!

The first three people to email me with the most complete list of names from the 2017 top 100 that also appear in my book are: Carrollann, Christina, and Katie! Congratulations to them all!

One of the best things to come out of this giveaway was all the new ideas I got from your emails! As I was telling Jon Leonetti when I was on his show the other morning, despite having spent nearly ten years of my life — including the last four (!) with all of you sharing your ideas — digging into every nook and cranny of the internet and books I have and compiling the names that ended up in my book, I’m STILL finding new Marian names and titles that I never came across/thought of/heard of. You all have provided several new ones, and I’ve added them to the list I’ve started for the book’s second edition! 😉

I haven’t responded to anyone’s entries but those of the winners, so don’t get concerned if you didn’t hear from me … I plan to and want to reply to each of you, as I truly loved each one of your emails. Hopefully today! I hope you all have a great Sunday!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Spotlight on: Helena

A reader has requested a spotlight on Helena, which I’ve been trying to get to for weeks … ta da! Here it is!

I’m always interested when variants of the same name all have different feels, and this is definitely one of those names. Helen has an older feel to me, like vintage chic, while Helena feels a bit more on trend and Helene feels mostly out of fashion, but the SSA data doesn’t totally agree with me: Helen is most popular at no. 418, followed by Helena at 516, and Helene at 943. What are your gut reactions about each name?

Then there are the non-H variants: Ellen, Elena, Elaine, Eleni, Ileana, Yelena, and Olena. And maybe Eleanor (which opens up some more variants, like Elea, Nora(h), and Lenora/Lenore). So many gorgeous names! So many ways of choosing a name in this family that suits your taste! I love the nicknames too: Ellie, Nell(ie), Lena, Leni (let’s not forget Dwija’s little Helen Margaret who got called Nellie Peg for a while in the beginning [and maybe still?]. Nellie Peg! So cute! [I can’t find the link to where I read that though!])

But back to Helena for a minute — for the mama who asked for the consultation, and for others I’ve encountered who would like to consider the name or who are, pronunciation can be an issue. There are three that seem to have fairly decent use: HEL-en-na, hel-LAY-na, and hel-LEEN-na. For those who don’t like when names have different acceptable pronunciations, that can be a problem! I did a name poll on Twitter to see if one pronunciation really rose to the surface, and there really was (though admittedly the same size was quite small):

helena_namepoll

So at least among the Sancta Nomina Twitter followers, HEL-en-na wins the day! How do you all say it?

St. Helena of Constantinople is the first holy Helen(a) to come to mind when I hear the name, and is usually the one parents tell me they’re using as patron (as well as the Eleanors), but there are others with the name or a variant as either a birth name or religious name — do any of you have devotions to any of them?

I’ve also seen people really love the meaning, which Behind the Name gives as either “torch,” “corposant” (a new word to me, but how cool!), or “moon,” and the DMNES says its origin is uncertain.

What do you all think of Helena and/or its variants? Would you consider any of them for a daughter, or have you? Do you know any little ones named Helena, and do they go by a nickname?

I’ll be on the radio again tomorrow! And my new CatholicMom post

If any of you live in Iowa, you might already be familiar with the show Jon Leonetti in the Morning on Iowa Catholic Radio (1150am, 88.5fm and 94.5fm): I’ll be on with him tomorrow morning chatting about my book at about 7:45 central time (8:45 eastern)! Even if you’re not in Iowa, there’s a “listen live” option on their web site. I hope you can catch it and let me know how I did!

And my May column posted on CatholicMom.com yesterday — continuing to share the good news of my book with as many people as I can!

catholicmom_screen_shot-05.16.18.jpg


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Links, updates, and consultation info

I’ve got a bunch of things to share today, so I’m putting them all in one post!

First up, I’ll be going on “maternity leave” from consultations starting June 1. That will give me a chance to finish up all those currently in the queue and any new ones before things get real around here, baby-wise (i.e., doubling down on getting things ready + my own slowing down as the time approaches). But I won’t be off the blog — posts take less time than consultations, so I should still be able to post regularly (though perhaps less frequently? It’s almost summer y’all! My boys and I have plans!). I’ll also still be on Instagram and Twitter (especially IG). I’m not sure when I’ll be back to consultations — I’ll have to play it by ear, based on how things are going post-baby. A very unofficial, tentative date might be sometime around Christmas, but again, I’ll just have to see. I’ll be emailing those of you who purchased the Black Friday deal and haven’t yet redeemed it — which is totally fine! It doesn’t expire! But if you aren’t ready by June 1, I won’t be able to do it until I return from my baby hiatus.

I’ve gotten some emails in response to my giveaway! Woo! No one’s yet gotten the full list, so there’s still a chance for the rest of you! But the ones I’ve gotten are pretty good, so the competition is tough! It ends Saturday at midnight (Eastern).

I also have the final official links for my segment on Mater Dei Radio: this is for when it aired on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary, and this is for when it aired on Morning Drive. So much fun!

Almost three years ago I posted about Rachel Campos-Duffy and her congressman husband Sean’s seventh baby, and then totally missed that they’ve since had an eighth! Two years ago this month they welcomed Patrick Miguel — love love love his name!

Finally, back in November I posted a consultation for Amy at Our Family Fiat, and she recently relaunched her site and one of her first posts up is about the naming of her baby! Definitely go check out her third little lady’s beautiful name!! (Her first name is in my book! Woo!)

Okay! That’s all I have for this Tuesday! I hope you’re all having a great week!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!