Year in review: 2015 (confetti and champagne!)

{Warning: Action-packed post ahead. Also very long.}

You guys. I just can’t quit you! 😀 ❤

I told you I would be off the blog from Christmas Eve until Jan. 4, excepting my normal Monday consultation, but then this week’s family offered the fun opportunity to guess the name they’ve chosen, and then there was a birth announcement, and then I realized that, of course, I can’t not do a year in review post! And I won’t even tell you how many times I thought Oh! I need to blog about this! and had to remind myself that I’m taking a short sabbatical. So all in all, I’m delighted to have lots of reasons to post today!

First off: no one guessed the name Tara and her husband have chosen! It’s often hard to predict what a couple will choose — no matter how much of a certain style or taste in names is revealed by the names on their list and parameters that they say they’d like to follow, many times a name just pops up in an unexpected way and it’s clearly the name. It’s happened with so many of the families I’ve done consultations for, and it’s happened for my husband and I, and it happened for Tara and her husband.

Tara wrote,

We LOVED your name choices…and then decided to go with something different. We couldn’t agree on Stella Maris as a first or Stella as a first and Maris as a middle so we started talking other Marian names and landed on Rosemary “Rory” Valentine. We like Rosemary because the rosary has become a prayer devotion for us more recently and there was no arguing over whether it should be one or two names. Valentine is a family name on both sides of our family.”

How wonderful is that name?!! It’s clearly Marian, and while it’s not as “a little on the unusual side” as Tara said they’d like, the nickname Rory pulls it back into the “little unusual” category. I just love it.

I have no prize for the winner, since there wasn’t a winner, but you all had such wonderful suggestions! So I’m delighted to share a little gift for you all from one of you wonderful readers:

Natalie from At the Post Paperie & Gifts (that’s the link to her Etsy shop, and you can also find her on Instagram) has enjoyed the blog for a while and said she’s “found much comfort & grace in blogs like yours as I’ve grown in my faith, so I wanted to give a little something in return.” She’s offering to all of you a free download of some nursery prints for little girls featuring quotes from St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Blessed Mother Teresa on a ballet slipper pink background accented with nature watercolors. Here’s the three of them displayed together:

Display of 3 Nursery Prints

And here’s the link to download the high-quality 8 x 10 jpegs to print at home, your local print shop or an online retailer. Natalie says best results are achieved if they’re printed on thick, matte paper. Aren’t they lovely? If we ever have a little girl, I will be hanging these on her wall. 🙂

As for the year in review: I took some time yesterday going through my inbox and old posts and writing down notable things I remember from this year in regards to our fun little community here and it’s all just so fun, so amazing, so a-twinkle with blessings from heaven. What a joy to be a part of something so wonderful!

I thought you’d enjoy seeing this, from my blog stats — it’s my page views and visitors for this time last year:


I started the blog in June, and by the end of the year I’d had 160 page views by 38 people. I suspect those 38 people were my mom and one of my dearest friends from college logging on and off.

Then I posted the consultation for Simcha on January 8, and thanks to her kindness in sharing the link on her blog, you all started to find me! I’ve told my mom on more than one occasion, regarding all of you, “I knew there were others like me out there!” 😀 This is how 2015 ended up looking (next to 2014, for comparison):


It makes me laugh every time I look at it! What fun!

Some other fun facts, statistics, and notable happenings include:

How amazing is this church?? And that a candle was lit for us??

Whew! What a year! I can’t imagine any year could be as fabulous as this past one has been, but I’m excited to see what God has in store for 2016. Cheers to you all, prayers and blessings for the New Year, and happy tomorrow’s Feast of Mary, the Mother of God!

Birth announcement: Susanna Grace!

You all likely know by now that I will absolutely break any blog fasts for a birth announcement, and I’m excited to post one today!

I posted a consultation for Karra and her husband last month, and Karra emailed me to let me know her baby girl has arrived and has been given the gorgeous name Susanna Grace!

Karra writes,

I had our beautiful baby GIRL on November 27th, the day after thanksgiving!  We named her Susanna Grace after much much much much much much debate.  And actually she was not named for over 24 hours!!!  I kept saying to my husband, we need to name her because we keep calling her “the baby” or just “her.”

At the time of her birth, we had it narrowed down to Susanna, Mary, and Mary Beth (Mary Elizabeth).  Since she was born on the feast of St. Catherina of Alexandria though, we then considered Mary Cate (Mary Catherine).  And then Juliet was thrown in for good measure.  I thought my husband was leaning more towards Mary and I was leaning more towards Susanna…until he said that Susanna was his top choice.  I kept asking if he was sure and he assured me he was…I think it was after playing with first and middle names that we threw out there “Susanna Grace” and it just kind of fit perfectly.  I don’t know why I never paired these two names together before!

Anyways, I thought I would update you!  I appreciate all your help and suggestions, I read the post and comments several times during that 24 hours after her birth searching for inspiration!

I’m just in love with the name Susanna Grace, and I also love that little Susanna has a virtue name in the middle like her sisters. Well done, Mom and Dad!

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

Baby name consultant: Unusual Marian name for Baby Girl #2

(I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!!)

Tara and her husband are expecting baby #2, a little girl! Big sister is:

Kateri Cynthia

Which I just die over, how beautiful!! Tara writes,

Naming our daughter took a while, but once we heard the name we agreed immediately. Her name is Kateri Cynthia. We picked Kateri for a few reasons. 1. We found out we were pregnant when we were chaperoning a service trip to a Native American reservation and 2. My husband’s mother’s name is Catherine (Cathy) and his sister’s name is Kathryn (Kate). We wanted to name her after her grandmother, but adding another Catherine to the family seemed a bit much. We loved that Kateri was a lovely saint and gave a nod to my mother in law. Kateri’s middle name is Cynthia after my mom.”

I love love all this! A fun fact is that Kateri is the Mohawk form of Catherine — St. Kateri was named for St. Catherine of Siena at her baptism.

Tara continues,

Where we’re struggling is if our second child is a girl. We know we want a Marian name, and we think we’ve landed on Stella Maris. My husband, however, prefers Stella as a first name, with Maris as a middle name. I’m sort of liking Stella Maris as a double first name, but I can’t come up with a middle name that sounds good with this combination. Any suggestions for a middle name with this combo? I’m also open to hearing other Marian suggestions that are a little on the unusual side (we like traditional boy names and not-so-traditional girl names, and we’d prefer to keep the middle name as a saint’s name as well.)

As you all know, I loooooove Marian names, so I felt like rubbing my hands together with glee over this dilemma!

Okay, first off, I love Stella Maris — what a gorgeous Marian title, and a really stunning combo for a little girl. But Tara’s right — it’s hard to pair middle names with! I said it over and over, trying to figure out a rhythm for the middle name that worked with the unusual rhythm of “Stella Maris” as a double-barrel first name. My favorite suggestion for Tara and her husband is: Anne. Stella Maris Anne has a great flow with their last name (which I won’t mention for privacy reasons — you’ll just have to believe me!); Anne doesn’t make the full name too long; and how lovely to have Mother Mary and her own mother in the same name!

Otherwise, I thought a two-syllable middle name with the stress on the second syllable sounded the best to my ear. The ones I came up with are mostly a little offbeat for these days, but maybe they’ll hit the right notes:

  • Annette
  • Annique
  • Janine
  • Jeanette
  • Mairead
  • Elise
  • Elaine

Another way to work with the title Stella Maris but solve the middle name issue is to use the variant Maristella. It’s a totally legit variant of the Stella Maris title — you can see a beautiful holy card with that version here  — and Tara and her hubs could still use Stella as the everyday call name. It takes a middle name a bit easier than Stella Maris as well — something short like Jane or Clare would be lovely with it, but long can work too — this mama named her baby Maristella Katherine!

As for other Marian names that are unusual, I came up with a bunch:

(1) Apparition sites
Some of the Marian apparition sites make great names — some of my favorites are Liesse, Salette (after La Salette), and Lourdes. The first two are not very used as names, but Lourdes does have some use — the mom who writes the blog My Child I Love You named her youngest Lourdes. Lola and Lulu are great nicknames for it!

(2) Variants of Mary
Miriam and Meike are my two thoughts for this category. Miriam is a bit more common, but it’s just lovely. Meike is a recent favorite of mine — it’s a German and Dutch diminutive of Maria, and it’s said like Micah. So cool!

(3) Names from Marian titles
There are lots here:

  • Amabel comes from the title Mater Amabilis, and Annabel is a variant of Amabel. Amabel, Annabel, and another variant Mabel could all work
  • Araceli is Spanish for “altar of the sky/heaven” and refers to Our Lady
  • Caeli or Coeli from the title Regina Caeli/Coeli—Queen of Heaven
  • Immaculata or Immaculee — from Immaculate Conception, of course — Immaculée Ilibagiza is a famous bearer, and I know a little one with Immaculata as her middle name, and another with Immaculata as her first
  • Mercedes is Spanish for “mercies,” from the title Our Lady of Mercies
  • Perpetua is a name on its own with its own saint, but it can also refer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

(4) Words associated with Mary
My ideas here included:

  • Fiat, from Our Lady’s “let it be done”
  • Pieta, from the sculpture of Our Lady holding the body of Jesus
  • Tilma, from Juan Diego’s tilma

(5) People associated with Our Lady
In general I don’t think of names like Bernadette or Lucia being “Marian,” although I do think a good argument can be made for them to be so considered, since they call to mind Our Lady. But I did feel I had to suggest Jacinta — Kateri and Jacinta have always seemed like sister names to me, and I love it for this family. Something like Jacinta Mary would have a real double Marian whammy, or even Mary Jacinta as a double. Thinking of that reminded me that Bernadette’s given name was actually Marie-Bernarde (I’ve also seen Bernarde-Marie, but I think Marie-Bernarde is what I’ve seen most often), and that also seemed like a double Marian whammy to me. And Marie-Bernarde made me think of Marie-Azelie, which is what our brand new St. Zelie Martin (mother of St. Therese) was named at birth. So Azelie doesn’t have any Marian connection that I know of, but if one was going to consider a French double starting with Marie, that’s a sweet one.

Those are all my suggestions for this little baby, but as an added fun challenge, Tara asked,

As a side note: any good saint names that are too weird for kids, but might be good for a dog? We’re also getting a puppy and struggling with names!

How fun! It’s true that it’s hard to find saintly names that might be better for pets than kids. But I was thinking that some last names might work, like:

  • Duchesne, from St. Rose-Philippine Duchesne
  • Hofbauer, from St. Clement Mary Hofbauer
  • Guzman, from St. Dominic (de) Guzman (extra cool is that he’s known as the “hound of heaven” and is often depicted with a dog)
  • Last names for living people too, like Bergoglio or Ratzinger (though maybe Ratzinger’s better for a cat? Haha!)

Place names related to saints could work too, like:

  • Assisi (St. Francis loved the animals!)
  • Padua (St. Anthony of)
  • Prouille (said PROO-ee; known as the “cradle of the Dominicans” because the first Dominican house is there) (I was having fun with the Dominican theme!)
  • Molokai (St. Damien of)

And faith-related words would work too, like:

  • Boon — a boon is a favor or a blessing, especially received in answer to a request
  • Rex or Fido — yes! Those classic dog names! Rex is “king” and could refer to Jesus; Fido means “I am faithful” in Latin

Those were all my ideas! In a fun twist, Tara let me know today that they’ve actually chosen their baby girl’s name and announced it to their family and friends (=chiseled in stone!), so instead of this being a traditional consultation in which I ask you all for suggestions, it’s more of a guessing game — based on all that’s here, what would you guess is the name Tara and her husband have chosen for Kateri Cynthia’s little sister? (I’ll let you all know with a bonus post on New Year’s Eve! I might even be able to scare up a little prize for anyone who comes up with the chosen first name. 🙂 )

(If anyone knows this family, please don’t spill the beans!)

(No word yet on the puppy’s name, so if you have any suggestions in that regard, please share!)

(This is the last parenthetical comment, I promise. 😉 )


Merry Christmas!!

Are you all getting ready for this most holy of nights? As I write this (in the morning of today), we’ve got cleaning and baking and neverending coffee 🙂 and Christmas carols and candy canes and clean clothes for Mass and gift-preparing going on, from the oldest to the youngest. What a wonderful time!

Before I sign off for Christmas, I wanted to let you know two fun things:

— Yesterday Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas and Christy from Fountains of Home interviewed me for their Fountains of Carrots podcast. I know! It was an awesome hour of talking about some really fun things, all having to do with architecture. Ha! 😀 Of course it was names. It’s so fun to talk with people who love the names of our faith as I do. Just like all of you! I’ll let you know when it posts — probably sometime in January — and you can listen while you fold laundry or wash dishes or relax with a cup of coffee or whatever you do when you listen to a podcast!

— Remember the guest post from The Catholic Hipster (Tommy Tighe)? And how he’s working on a book called The Catholic Hipster Handbook, due out in Spring 2017 from Ave Maria Press? He asked me if I would be interested in contributing to it! I know! There’s no guarantee what I wrote will make it into the final book but … it might! It was a really fun piece to work on and I’m just still in a swoony awe that something I wrote might actually appear in a published book.

So those are my fun tidbits to wrap up Advent with! With that, I want to tell you all, again, how very blessed my life has been because of you all. Life is full of so much sadness and suffering, which we know Jesus uses to draw us closer to Him, but it’s also full of joy, all of which comes from Him. This blog and our name conversations have been part of the joy of my life for the past year — such good, wholesome, innocent, joyful fun. Thank you all, a million times! ❤

I’ll be off the blog from now until Monday January 4, with the exception of the Monday consultation, which I’ll post as usual on December 28 and moderate the comments as needed.

And now — off to prepare for our Little Lord! Fall on your knees! O Night Divine! O Holy Night! A merry merry and very blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones!


Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Birth announcement: Elias David!

A mama I did a private consultation for not too long ago has let me know her baby boy has arrived — the handsomely named Elias David!

She writes,

“… we welcomed our newest family member Elias David Haag on Dec 7 and are absolutely head over heels in love. We feel so lucky to have two such precious little boys in our family. Big brother Isaiah is just smitten with him and can’t stop giving him kisses.”

Aren’t Isaiah and Elias just the best brother names?!

Another fun tidbit is that little Elias was due around the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and his parents liked the connection between Eli and Joachim — how cool!

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


Elias David

Birth announcement: Gabriel Nicolas Peter!

A couple weeks ago our reader Isabelle, who blogs from England at A Piece of the Continent, left a comment on the Jude spotlight saying that her son is named Jude (“Jude René Marc, always a bit of English and a bit of French”) and that she was expecting another boy any day, and still contemplating names for him. I told her I’d love to know what name they ended up choosing, if she didn’t mind sharing, and yesterday she let me know that her littlest guy had been born and they’d named him Gabriel Nicolas Peter!

Isabelle emailed me some more details, which I just love:

We chose our boys names mostly because of the saints associated with them, for Jude, we LOVED the association between Saint Simon and Saint Jude (my husband is Simon) and Gabriel felt just perfect for a Christmas baby, without being too obviously Christmassy. (A friend of ours pointed out the they were both heroes from Thomas Hardy novels, which was completely unintentional. She suggested “Angel” for the next boy, to follow the trend, but I had to point out that having an Angel and a Gabriel in one sibling set is just, no!)

Another thing we had to bear in mind is how the names translate between French and English (“Jude” was very strange for the French set, although easy enough to pronounce, and they were a bit thrown by it — my great-aunt, a dominican nun (!) point-blank refused to admit that it was the name of an apostle :). I think they are relieved with Gabriel!

The middle names however, strictly follow the French tradition. It’s very rare in France for parents to choose middle names simply because they like them, most of the time, they will be a nod to a family member/godparent (I have my grandmothers names — Chantal and Anne-Marie — as middle names, my little sister has her godmother and our great aunt’s religious name — Claire and Marie-Johannes).

So Jude is Jude René (after my grandfather) Marc (after my brother, his godfather), and Gabriel is Nicolas (after my father) and Peter (after my father-in-law).”

Isn’t that all wonderful?? Gabriel is SUCH a perfect name for a Christmas baby! I also love that this note references Thomas Hardy, a great-aunt who’s a Dominican nun, French traditions with middle names, and alllll of those gorgeous names! Jude, Simon, Gabriel, Chantal, Anne-Marie, Claire, Marie-Johannes, René, Marc, Nicolas, Peter … I love seeing beautiful names all together!

Congratulations to Isabelle, Simon, and Jude, and happy birthday Baby Gabriel!!


Gabriel Nicolas Peter