Emily, from the blog Raising Barnes, and her husband are expecting their second baby and second boy! She writes,
“Despite my love of names, we are really struggling to come up with a name we both love. We have a few that we both are ok with, but I really want to find something to fall in love with. Does that make sense?“
Yes indeedy, it makes perfect sense! I know you all agree!
“It is important to us (especially me, as a convert) to have names rooted in our Catholic faith; there is so much awesome material there to work with! Also, it is important to me that my kid’s names aren’t super popular or trendy.”
Catholicky Catholic and not super popular or trendy — got it! 🙂
Their first son is:
Which I just love. Such a handsome combo. Emily says,
“We both fell in love with the name Simon early on. Matthew is my husband’s middle name and my father-in-law’s first name … I absolutely love his name, which is part of the reason we are having difficulties with baby #2.”
Names they’ve discussed include:
Blaise (“but I personally don’t like the double B (Blaise Barnes…)“)
Xavier (Emily’s frontrunner)
Miles (her husband’s frontrunner)
Eli (“a distant second place for both of us“)
The first thought I wanted to offer — and please, readers, chime in if you think I’m off base — is that as much sense as it makes that they want to find a name they love as much as Simon, and I fully 1000% agree they should try to do so, I do think that it’s hard to recreate the experience of choosing the most!amazing!name!that is my very favorite name ever! So sometimes, with such a high bar set, whatever ends up being the agreed-upon name might initially have a sort of “settling” or “compromise” feel to it. But I can almost guarantee that as time goes on and it becomes completely associated with one’s beloved baby, that name will become equally as loved as the first baby’s name. I hope that helps Emily and her husband not worry too much!
So: names on their current list. I love Maximilian and Sebastian both. They have a really sophisticated feel to me, but both pare down to really friendly nicknames — Maximilian can be Max or Mac; Sebastian can be Seb/Sebby or Bash (a la Grace Patton’s little guy); and I’ve actually seen Ian suggested as a nickname for both Maximilian and Sebastian.
I like Blaise a lot too, but I can see Emily’s point — Blaise Barnes could be really great and memorable, or it could come across as somewhat cartoonish. Totally their call. I think if they own it, with confidence, and infuse their son with that confidence, it would be totally fine. But if they can’t get comfortable with it or if it feels weird, probably best not to use it.
And Xavier! There’s a little Xavier in my life, and I just love his name. He goes by Xave or Xavey, which are so sweet, and the full Xavier oozes handsomeness too, I think. And there’s no cooler initial than X!
Miles is a recent favorite of mine too, but if it matters to Emily and her hubs (and it may not, and that’s of course totally fine), I don’t love the –s ending of Miles with the –s ending of Barnes. Miles Barnes. Nit picky stuff, but maybe helpful in whittling down options.
Eli is fun! And yet another different style … I feel like Simon + Maximilian/Sebastian/Xavier/Blaise reads “Catholic and only Catholic.” Simon + Miles has a more … pilgrim feel? And Simon + Eli is all biblical. I like each of those feels/styles, and Emily and her hubs certainly wouldn’t have to stick with whichever one went with the name they end up choosing for their little guy — they could have Simon, Miles, Eli, and Xavier someday, all in the same family, totally fine! I think they all work together, because they’re not really far apart stylistically — pilgrim basically IS biblical, and biblical is certainly Catholic. But it’s fun to see it pointed out I think.
As for popularity — here’s how they all broke down in 2014:
I assumed Eli would be the most popular, and was totally shocked to see Sebastian’s actually the most popular! What?? I don’t know any in real life (though I see it talked about/considered a LOT among the families who read my blog). I know a lot of little Eli’s, so I wondered at first if I just live in an Eli pocket, but upon further thought I realized I think they’re all actually Elijah, and Elijah was #11 in 2014. #11! So that’s something for Emily and her hubs to consider, as there may be a bunch of Eli’s in their little guy’s class who are actually Elijah on the birth certificate.
Okay, on to my additional suggestions. As you all know, I usually start my consultations by looking through the Baby Name Wizard book — it has the amazing feature where it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. It provides really great inspiration and good directions to go in. I looked up each of the names on Emily’s list (including Simon) and wrote down the boy suggestions for each one, and looked for any overlap. She and her husband have very consistent taste! Sebastian is similar to Maximilian, for example, and Xavier is similar to Blaise AND Maximilian AND Sebastian! I love seeing those kinds of things pop up. It all gave me good ideas for other options as well. I always shoot for three, but I had four ideas for Baby Boy Barnes:
Oliver was actually one that came to mind as soon as I started reading Emily’s email, before I’d done any research. While Simon is certainly super saintly and biblical, it usually has more of a bookish, Brit feel to me, which I love. Oliver has always struck me as similar. We discussed Oliver for our second boy, and very nearly named our third boy Oliver, so it’s long been a love of ours. We just haven’t felt it was “the one” for our boys just yet, but in considering it we looked up St. Oliver Plunkett, and he is a fabulous saint to have as a patron. But what really clinched it for me is that it was listed as similar to both Simon and Sebastian! Winner!
Isaac was another I’d scribbled down for Emily before cracking open my BNW book, so I was delighted to see it listed as similar to Simon and Miles. Isaac is super biblical, but to me it’s also St. Isaac Jogues — the Shrine of the North American Martyrs is near where I live, and he was martyred there. (It’s also the birthplace of St. Kateri.) Isaac’s such a cool name, I love it.
(3) Nathaniel or Gabriel
Nathaniel has that long, sophisticated feel that Maximilian and Sebastian have, and it’s biblical like Simon. And I always think of Nathaniel and Gabriel as having a similar feel — they always remind me of each other — and Gabriel was listed as similar to Xavier, and it’s also biblical. I love both choices for a brother to Simon.
(4) Colin/Cole or Kolbe
Colin was listed as similar to both Simon and Miles (as was Isaac), and it also made me think of Cole (both can claim a connection to Nicholas for saintliness), and Cole and Maximilian both made me think of Kolbe, which I see used with some frequency among Catholic families as a first or middle name. I love the idea of Kolbe, but I wonder if Kolbe Barnes might be too much B together? Or not? I was named Katherine Towne and always called Kate, and it wasn’t until I was grown up and considering how names sound together for my own boys that I realized Kate Towne does the thing I try to avoid — Kate ends in the –t sound and Towne starts with it, so it can sound like Kay Towne (and I’ve always hated when people mishear my name as Kay, but it makes so much more sense to me now than it did when I was growing up). My point being — sometimes us namiacs notice things that no one else does or cares about. I can’t imagine that anyone a little Kolbe B. would come in contact with would be like, “Can you believe they named him Kolbe Barnes?? So many B’s!!” So really, I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about (if there was any concern to begin with). And Kolbe could take the nick Kole if desired, which is really pretty hip.
So those are my thoughts/ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for a little brother to Simon Matthew?