Theresa (who wrote an amazing review of my book for Epic Pew!) shared her older kids’ names with me a couple of years ago, and I loved them so much I did a Name Story post about them! We’ve actually had many fun conversations about names — including for the baby she recently gave birth to! I’m excited to share that Theresa and her hubby welcomed a baby girl, to whom they gave the swoony name … Penny Annalise Mariae!
“On November 13, our little girl, Penny Annalise Mariae, was born. I know we had talked about her name here and there throughout my pregnancy (and you were so generous in offering some ideas for a boy name when we could not settle!) and I’ve previously shared her big sister’s and brother’s name stories with you, so I wanted to share her name story with you! It’s a long one, so I’ll take it name by name.
Penny– When we began, we liked the name Penelope with the nickname Penny. We actually had a completely different set of middles to go with Penelope, Penelope Chiara Lucy, which altogether means “weaver of illustrious light”. I had wanted Mary Stella Maris to be our next daughter’s patroness anyway, so this was a lovely coincidence! Then I was curious to see if there are any saint Penelopes. There aren’t, but there is a St. Irene of Thessalonica whose birth name was Penelope. This is where even more coincidences start coming into play. One of my middle names is Irene for my Italian grandma and, though I’m sure if she was named for a saint it would be St. Irene of Rome, I thought this was an incredible connection for the three of us. (Similarly, I had heard my daughter Ruby’s name on a TV show and fell in love with it; there is a story that my great-grandma heard Irene on a radio program and fell in love with it. I really like that both of my girls have these cool connections to my Gram, with whom I was close).
Ok, so, Penelope nicknamed Penny. The day before we found out gender, we were talking about boy names and realized that we both thought the girl name should just be Penny. We really only like nicknames if we’re going to use the given name and the nickname fairly equally and we knew that we’d be calling this baby Penny 90% of the time. So we switched Penelope to Penny and came up with her two middles (more on that in a bit!). More coincidences presented themselves.
Way back when I was 16, a friend gave me a little penny bank (they were one of those $1 add ons from Claire’s) that had this poem on it: “Place a penny in the slot, close your eyes and wish a lot. Your Prince Charming you’ll receive, if in your heart, you believe.” I started collecting pennies and saving them from that moment on, but instead of just making a wish on them, I’d say a prayer for my future husband and for my own vocation discernment before placing each penny in the bank. Ten years later, my husband and I married and I gave him all of the pennies I had been praying on and saving. We were able to go out to a nice dinner on all the pennies I saved! And that has proved a sort of foundation of prayer and devotion for our marriage. Since pennies played a big role in the young life of our marriage, it was nice to be able to reflect that in our daughter’s name.
But there’s more! My mom’s favorite band was The Beatles who has the song “Penny Lane”. My favorite band is Hanson who has the song “Penny & Me”. My mom has been gone for almost 12 years now and so this shared connection is really special to me. (I also realize that Taylor and Natalie Hanson, fantastic namers that they are, have a daughter Penelope who goes by Penny. Just a coincidence! I didn’t remember until after we had chosen the name.) Also, my best friend Jackie and I became best friends in 7th grade because of a mutual love of Hanson, so I feel like Penny is a nice nod to our friendship, also. Penny is also two syllables like my other kids’ names and ends in the “ee” sound like her sister.
Annalise– There are lots of Ann(e)/as and Elizabeths on my and my husband’s family trees (including me, my sister, my mom, both of my grandmas, my aunt/godmother, another aunt, and one of my great-grandmas), so this is a nice little nod to family. My second middle name is Anne and my daughter Ruby’s is Anastasia, so I also like that we’re keeping An- names going (my mom’s and her mom’s middle names are also Anne). We had considered Annalise for a first name and then revisited it when we changed Penelope to Penny and it fit! It’s also a nod to my maid of honor, Anna, who is now a religious sister, and to another good friend of mine Anna Elizabeth. The “L” in there as a form of Elizabeth was actually really important to me, too. My grandma Irene didn’t have a middle name. When she was confirmed, she took St. Elizabeth and decided to make it her middle name; however, she wanted to be different from “all the other Elizabeths” and so spelled it Lizbeth. She was a firecracker! The L was also important to me because I have other special people in my life whose names begin with L- both of my sisters-in-law have middle names beginning with L, my MOH’s religious name is Sr. Luisa Grace, my grandma Irene’s dad was Louis, my aunt Linda, I had an “aunt” Louise, and some others. I also really like that I basically get a two-for-one name with Annalise! Gotta get as many names in as possible!
Mariae– Last but not least (but a little more succinct)! We wanted a form of Mary in her name, just like big sis has Mae. Originally, we were going to go with Marie for my mother-in-law’s middle name, but it just didn’t feel right to me. I remembered Mariae is the Latin form of Mary (and I think I read it on your blog somewhere once?) and I really liked that and finally convinced my husband it wasn’t too weird lol! It has a little more pizzazz than Marie and then gives everyone their own form of Mary. AND it rhymes with Mae and also my maiden name Bey. Turns out there are a lot of people in our families with Marian names- big sis (Mae), one of my sisters-in-law (Maria), my mother-in-law (Marie), and two of my great-grandmothers (Mary and Marie), and also some cousins!
So, this name not only fits this individual child while keeping her unique and her own person, but it gives so many wonderful nods and connections to people and saints that we love. Between her name and her sister’s name, I think we’ve covered 90% of the females in our life in some way! This is important to me as I like names for our children with lots of meaning but that also give the child a unique identity.”
I mean. Aren’t these amazing names with so many amazing layers of meaning?? I love the saving-pennies-praying-for-future-husband/vocation story so much, how incredible is that anyway, never mind naming their daughter Penny! The connections with so many of the beloved women in Theresa’s family and life and of course Our Lady are tremendous, I was blown away by each detail as I read this from Theresa. And I’m so charmed by siblings Ruby, Peter, and Penny — what a great trio!
Congratulations to Theresa and her husband and big siblings, and happy birthday Baby Penny!!
Penny Annalise Mariae with her big sister and brother ❤
My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — a perfect🎄Christmas gift🎄 for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!