Better than candy on Halloween …

… is helping those in need! You guys, our dear Charlotte needs help. We’ve prayed for her before as she struggles with her health issues and the hope of preserving her ability to have children one day. She has surgery scheduled for Nov. 20, but in the meantime her chronic pain is interfering with her ability to work, and though she’s cut expenses down to the bare minimum — even moving back home — her financial situation is dire, especially in light of her medical bills. One of her friends has set up a Go Fund Me for her, and though Charlotte would never want to ask anyone for help, I thought I’d post the link in case any of you feel moved and are able to help, even a little bit. And also, as always, please keep her in your prayers. Thank you all!! ❤❤❤

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Celebrity guest: Meghan, literary+Catholic namer

The consultation I had scheduled for today had to be postponed, so I’m excited to bump up this post I had scheduled for later this week!

When I worked on that post on Catholic literary names the week before last, and saw all of your great comments and suggestions, I immediately thought of a beautiful family who I follow on Instagram whose daughters have the most amazing Catholic+literary names and I’d been meaning for ages to ask the mama if I could share them on here! So I asked and she said yes and I’m delighted to share their name stories with you all today!

Meghan is a FertilityCare Practitioner teaching the Creighton Mode of NFP, and her husband is “in the editing phases of his first book (!!!) and frequently freelances for the Catholic Beer Club and Aleteia.” What a cool couple!

They have three daughters, and Meghan writes,

The source of our inspiration for our first names thus far has largely been from literature, so far authors have been the namesake of our three girls. But as we’ve created lists before each birth they’ve spanned all aspects of literature. Aside from that, we like them all to have a little nod to our Catholic faith, but in a unique/eclectic not-so-traditional way. I’ve been told my names are Catholic hipster, but trust me — least. hipster. girl. ever. over here, full blown SAHM stuff of your childhood happening, so I don’t know how I’m doing it.”

😂😂😂

My husband and I are both avid readers (at least we try!) and big literature fans. Neither of us got degrees relating to the subject, but both love to write! … We never find out the gender of our babies before they are born, so while we await their arrival, we typically have a short running list of names for both a boy and a girl.

We always S T R U G G L E to think of boy names that fit in with our style … or should I say we struggle to agree on boy names, we both can come up with boy names for days, but none that the other is on board with. But the Lord has been merciful to us in that and we have only girls so far!

With this last pregnancy I was very near considering contacting you for a consult when it came to boy name ideas just in case we had one because I was panicking! Thankfully we came to an agreement — one so oddly obvious we couldn’t believe it hadn’t been decided on earlier!

As a Meghan (a very popular name at its prime) it was important to me that we tried for more unique names! …. We are both QUITE Irish and so we often find ways to hint toward our ancestry in a lot of our name choices.”

Are you all ready to see these beautiful names?! (( drumroll ))

Flannery Ellen: “She’s named after Flannery O’Connor. The name accomplished just what we wanted. Something unique, with a Catholic flavor to it — something subtle that only the most Catholic and well-read among us usually pick up on. We tend to make fast friends with priests and scholars when we introduce Flannery! Now her middle name is a little bit of a different story. First of all, I’m picky about how the first name and middle name sound together. But when it gets down to it, her middle name is after my youngest sister Ellie. But we also have some other women from my side of the family that it subtly alludes too — I have a grandma and a great-grandma both named Helen, so its kind of a nice marrying of all those lovely ladies. I always assume that Flannery may take St. Helen as a patron one day if she so chooses!

Harper Edel: “First, I have to clarify that we have chosen a different pronunciation for ‘Edel’, we say it like it rhymes with ‘pedal’. We thought it added to the uniqueness of her name to have a different pronunciation, which was important to us since as it turned out Harper had a bit of a rise in popularity around the time she was born. But as you can guess, her first name is after Harper Lee the well loved author of To Kill a Mockingbird. And Ven. Edel Quinn for her middle name. I had to be on bed rest for three months while pregnant with Harper and I was reading a lot about this incredible Irish Missionary during that time. One day when Zach came home I just told him, “if we have a girl we have to name her after this powerhouse Irish missionary!” Seriously, she is so legit. Fearless, disciplined, selfless, and zealous! All traits I hope my girls will embody in some way!

Willa Margaret: “She is named after Willa Cather who famously penned O Pioneers and Death Comes for an Archbishop. I also have a great great Aunt Willa who was known to be stunning and strong. My great grandmother is still living (91!) and loves when we bring little Willa to visit her — you can see the rush of nostalgia just at the mention of her name! She has a hard time remembering who everyone is, but she always remembers that there is a baby named Willa! Now the Margaret part … So, our girls were on a big Daniel Tiger kick while I was pregnant and they do a fantastic job in that show explaining how it will be when mom has a new baby and so naturally, my girls related very well to this. Maybe a little too well … Daniel Tiger’s baby sister is named Margaret in the cartoon, “Baby Margaret”. Just kind of became how the girls referred to the baby in my belly — even though we didn’t know the gender! This went on for so long and no matter what I said to try and explain that if the baby was a boy it wouldn’t be named Margaret, etc. etc. I started to just say, “If it’s a girl, maybe that can be her middle name”. Well, then while I was pregnant we drew patron saints for the year and the patron we drew for the baby was St. Margaret of Cortona … so finally after a few months of ‘maybe that will be her middle name’ I had to ask my husband if that was in fact going to be our potential daughter’s middle name!? We both just decided … Why not!? So that one just sort of happened haha! But I love it!

Aren’t these ah-MAZ-ing names??!! Can you see why I was so taken with them, and why I wanted to share them here?? I love each one!!

I asked Meghan if she would feel comfortable sharing some of the names on their list for the future, and this is what she said:

-Emerson, for either boy or girl. We were kind of leaning toward boy even though I kind of preferred it as a girl name (but then my cousin had a baby girl and named her Emerson, so I decided to nix it for now)

– Louis, Zach LOVES Louis Lamore, but I just wasn’t so sure if it fit with the style…

– Jack Clement (I love all the hard ‘k ‘ sounds especially with our last name), After Jack London and then Clement after St. Clement but its also a family name of Zach’s. He had a cousin a few generations back who died very young from tuberculosis while working as a doctor, it just sounds so romantically like the story of many of the great saints we know and love, I often dream up what he may have been like!

– Gilbert, because G.K. Chesterton and also Anne of Green Gables

– J.D.- One of my husband’s favorite books is the Catcher in the Rye, so he was really trying to talk me into Jerome David, but I just can’t get on board with initials … or Jerome for that matter.

– Quinn and Sully, okay okay — these are more inspired by my mild obsession with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, but I love Quinn for a girl and Sully for a boy and I think stylistically they work with our current names. So help me find a literary tie so I can get them on the list for next time! 😉 I tried suggesting Solanus Casey, nicknamed Sully … hubby LOVES Solanus Casey — we’ll see if we ever have a boy haha!

Authors/ books we love and would love to use as inspiration:
Some of these are our most favorite books/ authors but we struggle to find a way to utilize them in a way that matches our naming style and is unique …
John Steinbeck
Ernest Hemingway
Little House on the Prairie (we recently just moved back to SD and are reading them with the girls)
C.S. Lewis
East of Eden
Anne of Green Gables
Charles Dickens
I know there are more, but my brain and memory are failing me …

I love all of this!! I personally think Gilbert is a slam dunk for them — I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think “Gilbert Blythe” upon hearing the name, so to me it fits in perfectly with the obviously literary first names their girls have, and that tie-in with G.K. Chesterton is so great! Sully for Solanus is amazing too, I love that! I don’t know of any literary connections though?

Other ideas off the top of my head include:
Wilder (b) for Little House on the Prairie (but too much “er” with Harper?)
Eden (g) for East of Eden (similar in appearance to Edel, but okay since one is a middle name and one might be a first name?)
Blythe (g) for Anne of Green Gables (but this would knock Gilbert out of contention)
Caspian (b) for C.S. Lewis, loooove!

I looked through the comments you all left on the Catholic lit post and thought these might be good (though I haven’t read the books they’re from yet):

Brede (for In This House of Brede, which wasn’t on Meghan’s list but I like Brede! Reminds me of Bridey from Brideshead Revisited, and it’s said like the Irish name Bríd)
Ransom (from C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy)

And I did a quick search on the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site for names that have a similar style to Flannery, Harper, and Willa, and I really liked these (though they’re not all related to the books/authors Meghan said they like):

Darcy (Mr. Darcy! But I like it better for a girl)
Scarlett (she’s got that Irish thing going on too!)
Jules (Jules Verne)
Atticus (too much with Harper?)
Barrett (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Bennet (the Bennet sisters)
Tennyson (such a cool name!)
Gulliver (I always thought Gulliver and Tennyson would make a cool pair of brothers)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this family spotlight! Thank you to Meghan for sharing all of this with us! If you have any name ideas for this family, please leave them in the comments, and be sure to hop on over to Meghan’s Instagram to catch a peek of her little lovelies!

📚💐🌷🌻🌹🌺📚💐🌷🌻🌹🌺📚💐🌷🌻🌹🌺📚

Birth announcement: Zephyr Wisdom Clove!

I profiled Katheryn and her beautiful family and her amazing taste in names in this post, and then was thrilled to post a birth announcement for her youngest son, and today I’m so excited to post a birth announcement for her youngest daughter, the incredibly named … Zephyr Wisdom Clove!

As with all her kiddos’ names, little Zephyr’s name is full of meaning. Katheryn writes,

She is named after Mary Seat of Wisdom and also after the Holy Spirit, Who played a big role in bringing us together. Zephyr means wind which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and then Wisdom is also the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit. Clove is her birth family connection name, and all our girls also have a botanical name so it is in keeping with that theme as well and is after St. Clovis. Zephyr is also after St. Zephyrine and the prophet Zephaniah, specifically this quote; “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

I have always loved the way Katheryn and her husband knit together meanings into one gorgeous name combination, and this little one’s name is no different. Amazing!

Congratulations to Katheryn and her hubs and big sibs:

Verity Majella Judea Hawthorne
Gethsemane Juniper Anne
Bosco Willis Yard
Hyacinth Clemency Veil
à Kempis Exodus Praise (“Exodus”)

And happy birthday Baby Zephyr!!

Zephyr Wisdom Clove and her big brothers and sisters ❤

New post up at Nameberry!

I have a new post up at Nameberry today! Some Surprising Surnames to Consider: From Ames to Wilkie.

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I had a lot of fun putting together this post — as you’ll read, it was the result of research I spent last winter doing, and I have a bunch more topics to write about from that same research! The book I refer to, A Dictionary of English Surnames by P.H. Reaney and R.M. Wilson, is a treasure trove of interesting tidbits about surnames used in England over the last ten centuries (I wrote a little about it here).

I’m interested to hear what you think about the post, and whether you would consider or have considered any of the surnames as first names for your own children!

Baby name consultation: Name of Greek origin needed for baby no. 4/girl no. 3

Rebecca and her husband are expecting their fourth baby on earth — their third girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

Sophia Kathryn (“Holy Wisdom and Catherine of Siena as well as a nod to my sister Kathryn“)

Chloe Patricia (“first green plant of spring, Saint Patrick, and her great grandmother is Patricia“)

Theodore Robert “Theo” (“God’s gift, Robert Bellarmine, and my dad is Robert“)

Jude Raphael (with Jesus) (“we prayed a novena for the intercession of Saint Jude when we realized we might lose him, and Raphael ‘God heals’“)

Albert Alphonsus (with Jesus) (“2 saints we love“)

Rebecca was sure to note that their miscarried babies were given names of saints they love, but they “would be less likely to name children who join us on this Earth after birth” with those names.

I love Sophia, Chloe, and Theo(dore) together, such a great group of names — sweet and sophisticated at the same time.

Rebecca writes,

We would sort of like to stick with the Greek theme we’ve stumbled into and have a few names we do like but none that we’re fully attached to. Saints/biblical names are a plus but not essential as first names. Our list includes Phoebe, Daphne, Elia, Eliana, and to a lesser degree Emma and Olivia. I’m hoping for Margaret (Mary, Margaret of Scotland, my mom’s middle name) or Rose (saint Rose of Lima and I just love it but [my hubs] doesn’t as a first name) for a middle name.”

Alrighty, so first, I wanted to offer some thoughts on the names Rebecca and her hubs are considering:

— I like both Phoebe and Daphne, they’re interesting picks and not terribly common
— Elia and Eliana are both lovely, and they made me think of Elena and Eleni—both are Greek forms of Helen, and I know a Greek family who has a little Eleni, it’s such a sweet name
— Emma and Olivia are great names, and very popular these days because of it. If popularity bothers them, the similar-but-longer Emmeline was listed as a style match for Theodore in the Baby Name Wizard (which, as you all know, I always consult when I start a consultation, as it lists for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity). I also found Emmeleia on the Greek Name Days site — such a pretty name! (That web site is such a great resource — I would definitely recommend taking a look through it)

As for new ideas, these are based on my research in the BNW (including its listing of Greek names in the back of the book) as well as a search through behindthename.com for Greek girl names and the list provided on Nameberry of Greek names, all of which resulted in some good ideas of Greek origin, but I also included some non-Greek names that I thought they might also like:

(1) Evangeline or Eva
I really like Evangeline for this family. Though it’s totally not a big deal at all, I like that Sophia, Chloe, and Evangeline all have different endings, and I like that Evangeline is long like Theodore. I also LOVE the sweet nickname Evie! I’ve also seen Lina used as a nickname for it. If they prefer something shorter, Eva is the Greek version of Eve, and is quite lovely itself.

(2) Georgia, Georgiana
I was surprised by Georgia, as I wouldn’t have thought of it as a Greek name, but indeed it’s categorized as such — not only was it included in the lists of Greek names I looked at, but the BNW also says that it’s “more common in England and Greece than in the U.S.” It also caught my eye because it’s a style match for Theodore! I also love the longer Georgiana.

(3) Anastasia or Stasia
Anastasia is such a gorgeous name that, like Evangeline, has a nice length. But if they thought it was too long, I love both Ana and Stasia as nicknames, and I love Stasia as a given name on its own as well. (I don’t know if Rebecca and her hubs care about repeating initials though?)

(4) Anna or Annabel(le)
Speaking of Ana, what about Anna? I love Anna, and it’s got that pan-European usage that Sophia has, which is so great, and it’s biblical like Chloe and has Greek usage like all of them, including Theodore. But actually, Annabel(le) was my first thought for them Ann-wise after Anastasia — it was listed as a style match for both Theo and Olivia in the BNW, which I thought was pretty amazing (though it loses the Greek).

(5) Irene
A reader emailed just the other day to tell me of the increase she’s been seeing in the number of little girls named Irene. Those of you who follow Simcha Fisher know that she also has a little Irene. It’s Greek for peace, and though it’s been more of an “old lady” name until recently, those names are coming back!

(6) Lucy
Lucy’s another that isn’t Greek, but it is a style match for Theo and Emma and it has that sweetness that I get from their other kiddos’ names, I love it!

(7) Lydia
I love Lydia for this little girl!! It’s Greek, and biblical like Sophia and Chloe, and a style match for some names that also match up with Theo!

(8) Thais or Tessa
Thais is a bit out there as a suggestion, but it’s one of my very favorite husband-would-never-agree names! When I saw it on one of the Greek lists, I had to include it. Pronunciation could be an issue — those familiar with the opera, or from a non-English-speaking country, will be familiar with the pronunciation tie-EES (which is made more obvious if you use the diaresis: Thaïs); I’ve seen TAY-iss, TACE, and THAY-iss as other pronunciations that people use and go by. (I did a spotlight on Thais here.) Tessa is similar but much easier, and though it was listed on Nameberry’s Greek list, it isn’t actually Greek or of Greek origin as far as I can tell. But I love Tessa as a sister to Sophia, Chloe, and Theo (the full T(h)eresa is lovely too! And Tessa is a great nickname, if they prefer that route).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Sophia, Chloe, and Theo(dore)?

Catholic literary names

Deciding to be an English major in college was a no brainer for this lifelong bookworm and writer — I love good writing and I love a good story, regardless of genre.

That said, more recently (in the past few years) I’ve been really interested in figuring out what makes good Catholic fiction. I’ve read some in the past that was more “Catholic” than “good” — I really don’t like stories that hit you over the head with rosaries and Mass while the story and characters feel too good to be true and/or not well written. (Full disclosure: my own attempts at fiction writing have tended toward this, so one of my reasons for trying to figure all this out is so that I can be a better writer myself.) I’d love to hear what you all know about this topic! Also, book recommendations! (The authors don’t have to be Catholic, nor the stories explicitly so, as long as the themes and/or any presentations of the faith reveal a real understanding and accurate representation of the the things we know to be true, as well as good vs. evil. Do you think that’s a fair definition?)

Anyway, I’m listing here a bunch of the books I’ve read in my quest to define “good Catholic fiction,” along with names associated with the books and authors that might be perfect for literary-minded parents who’d like a nod to the faith as well (this is by no means a comprehensive list, neither the titles nor the authors nor the characters’ names — please leave your additions in the comments! I’m really just listing the names I remember and/or the ones that stuck out at me).

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

  • Charles Ryder, Sebastian Flyte, Julia Flyte, Cordelia Flyte, as well’s as Waugh’s own first name — what do you think of Evelyn for a boy? Would you do it? Also, I’ve always found it hilarious that his first wife’s name was Evelyn as well!

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

  • Henry Miles and Sarah Miles (both first and last names), Maurice Bendrix, Graham

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (the entire thing in one volume is FREE on Kindle today! Follow that link!) (I also have to admit — I had a hard time getting through the books and vastly preferred the movies … 😔)

  • So! Many! Names! Frodo, Meriadoc/Merry, Peregrin/Pippin, Sam(wise), Rosie, Elanor, Arwen, Aragorn, Strider, the Riders of Rohan, Eowyn, Galadriel (I saw a birth announcement for a Galadriel years ago and thought it was SO cool!), and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien — any of those

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (I know, he wasn’t Catholic and the books aren’t Catholic but then again, they are, aren’t they?)

  • Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, Caspian, Digory Kirke, Eustace (do any of you find this usable?), Jill, Gael, Rilian, I even think Nikabrik could be a super cute nickname for a little Nicholas. ☺ Also Clive and Lewis, for the author himself

The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz (I think this is technically horror, which has *never* been my cup of tea, but I LOVED these books — I felt like their representation of “reality,” as we know it, with the thin veil that separates, was spot on)

  • Odd Thomas, Stormy Llewellyn (Bronwen), Ozzie, Annamaria … I can’t remember others

Some stuff by G.K. Chesterton (I can’t remember exactly what … maybe The Man Who Was Thursday? And some Father Brown)

  • I really really want to like Chesterton, I know he’s amazing. Maybe his fiction just isn’t my thing? (Though I’ve enjoyed the BBC Father Brown recently.) I like Gilbert, Keith, and Chesterton as names, and I’ve seen parents just use his initials (a friend planned on Gemma Katharine if she’d had a girl — G.K. initials — and our reader JoAnna’s son is Gabriel Keith — for other reasons — but she and her hubs like the nod to Chesterton with his initials as well)

 The Fairy Tale Novels by Regina Doman (6 books)

  • A lot of great names, like Rose and Blanche Brier, Arthur/Bear, Benedict/Fish, Kateri, Alex, the twelve daughters of The Midnight Dancers (I can’t remember them all! There’s Rachel, Priscilla/Prisca, Deborah/Debbie, Miriam I think?, Tammy, Linette, Cheryl … [two families with six daughters each combine through the parents’ second marriage, hence the difference in name style])

Catholic Philosopher Chick Series by Rebecca Bratten Weiss and Regina Doman  (2 books)

  • Catelynn/Cate Frank, Portia, Danielle/Dani, Felicity, Sean, Hector/Che, Nathaniel/Nat, Bartholomew/Bart, Justin, Sr. Jane Frances

I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner (I just finished this today and am excited to read the three other books in the series — I was blown away by how good this was)

  • Margaret/Margo, Blake/Bane, Jonathan/Jon, Jane, Kyle, Peter, Mark

I have not yet read anything by Flannery O’Connor, which I intend to remedy soon. Also Oscar Wilde? Right? Who else? Do you know of any more current books, like the last three I listed here? Are there any names you chose for your baby/ies specifically because of their Catholic lit connection?


Amazon affiliate links used in this post.

Names for Fr. Solanus Casey over at Catholic Mom!

My October column is up over at CatholicMom.com! Naming After Fr. Solanus Casey.

catholicmom_screen_shot-10.18.17

I’d love to know if you have additional ideas! Also if you’re going to the Beatification Mass in Detroit next month! (I likely won’t be able to, though my parents and my sister will be there!)

(I’d said last month that my topic this month would be “religious name changes for men,” but I wasn’t able to pull my research together in time. Hopefully next month!)