I’m beyond excited to have the great privilege of offering name suggestions to Grace Patton of the mom/fashion/style/lifestyle/humor blog Camp Patton!
There were a bunch of mama blogs that I read when my older kids were little, and then I took a break from blogs for a while, and then when I dipped my toe back in Grace’s blog was the first new one I started reading and I haven’t stopped. She’s a hilarious writer, and so so cool that I usually feel (1) old, (2) frumpy, and (3) bland when I’m reading her posts and flipping through her photos (which the younguns are calling “grams” I think? At least, that’s what Grace calls them) … but then she refers to herself as a “house mouse” and is blessedly free of the mother-this-way-or-you’re-not-a-good-mom bologna and says she loves shoes and chatting about baby names and that it’s important to her that she and her husband “stay in the saint family of names but I’ll be very honest and admit that I’ve liked a name and then Googled to make sure there is a saint by that name” and I think “soul sisters” and reconsider my aversion to painting my fingernails with the kind of super dark colors she rocks.
Anyway, Grace and her husband Simon have four born babies already, with these amazing names:
Sebastian Xavier nicknamed Bash
Theodore Augustine nicknamed Theo
Gender-surprise Number Five is due in June, and if you’d asked me before Phoebe was born what Grace and Simon’s style was I’d say Brideshead Revisited without a doubt and start making lists of names like Eleanor and Cora and Charles. Then Miss Phoebe was born and it’s very rare that I’m completely caught off guard by a couple’s name choice, especially if they have more than one other child (two or more gives a really good idea of name style I think, especially when they’re mixed gender), but I was totally blown away by the name they chose, both first and middle. In a good way of course! I loved it the second I read it.
But it really threw a wrench into my name ideas for the Pattons, because I’d been so sure I’d pegged them, and recalibrating my mindset is never an easy task. But recalibrate I did, for an embarrassing number of weeks (I do so enjoy a good name challenge, not joking even a little bit), relying heavily on my trusty Baby Name Wizard book (you remember — for each entry it lists other boys and girls names similar in style/feel/popularity), and came up with what I think are some good ideas. At least, if my children had the names of the Patton children, I’d be pretty happy using any of these for #5. As always, I shoot for three suggestions for each gender:
(1) Nickname: Lola
It may seem strange to start with a nickname idea, but hear me out: Grace has a style that pervades her whole blog+Instagram, from her fashion sense (for her and her kids) to her music to her interior design to her photographic eye to her funny turns of phrase, and it always strikes me as trendy — but not even close to being so in a bad way — more like, on point, like her finger’s on the pulse. Like how gifts from my similarly cool sibs are often the exact coolest thing that I didn’t even realize was the big new thing or that I looked at from afar and considered too cool for me. Lola strikes me as that kind of name. It feels kind of feisty but sophisticated, and though so far Grace and Simon don’t seem to love nicknameable girls names, they’re really into cool nicknames for their boys (I mean, Bash and Theo? So cool), so Lola kind of bridges what they’ve done already for their boys and girls. And Lola’s a traditional nickname for Dolores, which is Marian, which is always a great Catholic thing to do in naming.
What formal name would I suggest for Lola, you ask? Not Dolores, don’t worry! I have a few ideas, kind of quirky in that they’re not traditionally used as formal names for Lola, but they all strike me as hitting a right note somewhere in the Patton naming scheme. Basically, I tried for names/name combos that had L’s and long O’s so that Lola could be understandable as a nickname. Something like:
- Violet Louisa (or vice versa)
- Caroline Lucia (or vice versa)
- Lourdes (do note that Madonna’s daughter is Lourdes nicked Lola, a surprisingly beautiful choice compared to other [life] choices she’s made)
Or maybe a Mary- double, like … Mary Aloysius. (Kidding!) (Sort of …) Or Mary Olivia, Mary Ophelia, Maria Lauren, even Marie Lorelei (if Lorelei had a better story, it would have been one of my top choices for the nickname Lola for the Pattons … as it is, doubling up with Mary makes nearly every name okay) … they could even do hyphens like the fancy French (probably Marie or Maria would work best?): Marie-Olivia or Marie-Olive, Maria-Ophelia, Maria- or Marie-Lauren, Marie-Lorelei.
If the Pattons like Lola, I know they’ll come up with an amazing formal name for it. Even if they hate Lola, I think Violet, Caroline, Louisa, Lucia, Lourdes, and Mary+[something amazing] are all pretty fab all on their own and fit well with their other kids’ name.
(Just for fun: Lulu also struck me as a fun nickname for them … like fashion designer Lulu Guinness [who was actually born Lucinda, also a possibility] … and I know of a friend-of-a-friend’s recently born baby named Lulu … really cute as a nick for Louisa or Lucia. Also, I love Lucy as a nickname for Louisa, so there’s that too.)
Elisabeth is long like Sebastian and Theodore, but classic and Biblical like Julia and Phoebe. The Z spelling is fine, and the one I’d likely use if I were to name a daughter this, but I’m loving the S spelling for the Pattons. (I’ve also been reading Elisabeth Leseur’s diary, what a wife she was.) It’s lovely just as it is, but you know I’m a big nicknamer and, again, thinking of Bash and Theo, I love the idea of Tess as a nickname for Elisabeth for them. Of course there are loads of other Eliz/sabeth nicknames that are awesome: Liddy, Libby, Bets(e)y, and Ellie are all favorites of mine.
Another name I almost had as one of my final suggestions for the Pattons is Esme, and I love the idea of making it a nickname for, say, Elisabeth Maria? It totally works!
(3) Felicity or Stella
I had a hard time with girls names for the Pattons, and I found coming up with a third suggestion was so hard I couldn’t decide between Felicity and Stella. I really like them both as sister names to Julia, Sebastian, Theodore, and Phoebe. I even really like Felicity following Phoebe — both starting with an F sound, but having different first initials makes it totally different to me. Felicity’s an amazing saint and it’s one of those names that just has a lot of Catholic cachet. And Stella — you all know how I feel about Stella. So Marian, so classy. I think I’ve been pushing it on nearly everyone who I’ve offered suggestions to. But yet again, I feel like it works here so well. Julia, Sebastian, Theodore, Phoebe, and Stella. Some parents prefer all their kids to have different first initials, which I do understand, and it certainly makes it easier to initial what’s whose (but harder too in a big family to find a whole lotta names that have no first-initial overlap), but like how Phoebe and Felicity both have their own first initial (even while sharing a sound), Sebastian and Stella seem so different to me because of the S- and the St-. That little T makes a difference to me, like S and St are totally different letters. (It’s a little weird here inside my namey head.)
(I also just can’t not leave here some of the names that I thought felt really close to being perfect but ended up deleting them for one reason or another: Penelope, Imogen(e), Genevieve, Iris or Ivy, Lydia, Corinne, and Liv.)
I had a much easier time coming up with three boy names than I did with girl names. Sebastian and Theodore say to me: long, sophisticated, gentlemanly, and the very first name that I thought of was Maximilian. I love Maximilian (as is evidenced by the pseudonym I chose for my boy #5); St. Maximilian Kolbe is one of my very very favorites. I have my boy’s pseudonym nickname listed as Mac, which is an attempt at paralleling his actual nickname in real life, and was previously my favorite nickname for Maximilian, but then I read somewhat recently that someone was considering Maximilian with the nickname Miles and I thought I was going to die of name happiness. I just love an interesting nickname, and Miles is so perfect in my opinion! (If it’s helpful to any of the rest of you, that person considering Miles as a nick for Maximilian was also considering Milo, which I also adore … but not as a brother for Theo.) For the brother of Bash and Theo, I think Miles is awesome. For the brother of Sebastian and Theodore, I think Maximilian is awesome. And not that I’m suggesting middle names (okay I guess I did for Lola) (and for Elisabeth), but I would love a short middle for this long name and right now I’m loving Maximilian James. So handsome.
(2) Francis nicknamed Finn
Yes, I know, me and the nicknames. But the Pattons do nicknames for their boys! Really cool ones! And Francis nicked Finn is one I considered for my own boys, and I felt oh so cool when I thought of it. I’m just not a huge fan of the full Francis for everyday wear or the traditional Frank or Frankie (though my husband kind of loves Frankie, so Pattons, if you prefer Frankie, you’re in good [and normal] company). Francis is, of course, getting lots of Catholic attention because of il Papa, and it strikes me as also fitting right in with that upper-crusty Brideshead feel.
(3) Gregory nicknamed Rory or Gus
This is another one I considered for my boys. I mean, Gregory. As the BNW book puts it, “Popes, saints, and Gregory Peck! Can a name get any more distinguished?” Right? I totally one thousand percent agree. But then the BNW goes on to say, “Except you know he’ll go by Greg, which may conjure up Greg Brady’s bell bottoms instead.” Well we certainly don’t want that (unless such pants are the newest fashion, and if anyone would know, Grace would), and I really really think Rory can work as a nickname for Gregory. I love Rory anyway, and if the Pattons like it but not Gregory, I can also offer Robert nicked Rory. It’s got a formal Brit feel to me right now because of Downton Abbey, which totally works with the other kids’ names, and St. Robert Bellarmine was pretty cool, so that’s covered too. My personal preference would be to pair a name like Robert with a kicky middle, and my first thoughts here were Robert Benedict, Robert Kolbe, or Robert Bosco (Grace mentioned that she once considered Bosco for a first name for a boy).
And Gus? My personal thought is that any name that starts with a G could have the nickname Gus. Oh my, do I love Gus. An S- middle name could help make more sense of it, like Gregory Stephen or Gregory Solanus or Gregory Simon (great way to name after Dad!).
Well! Those are my thoughts on names for Camper #5! What do you all think? Have I hit the target or sailed into the trees beyond? Please leave suggestions — I know I would love to see your thoughts, and i’m sure Grace and Simon would too!
(Apologies if I used the word “cool” too many times in this post.)