Birth announcement: Caroline Rose and Evelyn Pearl!

Be sure to enter the blogiversary giveaway I posted about yesterday!

A few weeks ago I posted a consultation for Sara and her husband to help name their twin baby girls. Sara’s let me know the little ladies have arrived! And they’ve been given the gorgeous, perfect names … Caroline Rose and Evelyn Pearl!

Sara had actually emailed me to let me know the girls had arrived, and Caroline Rose was easily given to one of them, but they still couldn’t decide on a name for the second. So we chatted about it a little more — turns out the Rosalind/Rosalie idea was one her brother and sister-in-law were hoping to use for their own daughter someday, so Sara and her husband decided not to use it. There were a few others that they were considering, like Elizabeth/Ella, Amelia (and I suggested Emilia too, for JP2’s mom), and Evelyn, and I offered that the only one I would recommend crossing off the list was Evelyn, because the name they would have chosen for a boy is Everett and I thought they might want to save Everett for a future boy — though I also said that if she loves it, she should use it anyway. Funny enough, my comments were actually helpful! Sara writes,

We’re so happy to welcome Caroline Rose and Evelyn Pearl!

It really helped me to see your comments on Evelyn because it made me realize just how much I do love that name and it’s been on my girl list forever … once you said if I love it, use it, I realized I really do love it. Especially because I loved the name Evie from Genevieve but felt it was too short to use alone with Caroline and Genevieve was too long and a different style to use with Caroline. So now I have my little Evie! Also, my MIL Linda said she was called Linney as nn by her brother which could also work with Evelyn if we wanted to use that instead. And because I’m 39 and most likely these are my last babies (so sad!) it didn’t seem like it was worth trying to save the name Everett if we probably aren’t having anymore.

Lastly, I looked into the meanings of many of the names you wrote back about and although I thought your idea of Emilia was absolutely wonderful, I didn’t like its meaning being “rival” for a twin. Amelia also had a less than desirable meaning of work, striving, industrious. When I saw the meaning of Evelyn a long time ago I melted a bit at “wished for child.” That just felt so true for me.”

What a great name story!! And when I was thinking back to how I thought the kinds of names they were looking for could be described as “pearl necklace names,” I really feel like both Caroline and Evelyn fit that perfectly. I also love how both grandmothers are represented in both names — Carol and Lyn for Sara’s mom (Carolyn), and Lin (the spelling) and Lyn (the sound) for her MIL (Linda) — so fantastic!!

Congratulations to Sara and her husband and big brothers Landon and Brooks, and happy birthday Baby Caroline and Baby Evelyn!!

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Evelyn Pearl (left) and Caroline Rose (right)

The blog is 3! Story, photos, and a giveaway ❤

You guys! Today’s my blogiversary! Three years ago today I posted my very first post!

As I was approaching my first blogiversary two years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing of the blog and all of you and all the wonderful things that have come out of this sweet little space, and since St. Anne is the patroness of the blog, I decided to visit a St. Anne Shrine to thank her for her intercession and to pray for all of you. My wonderful husband helped me pack up our six boys for a day-long pilgrimage to Isle La Motte, VT, which wasn’t the kind of thing we ever really did back then, but it was so important to me to mark the occasion in an appropriate way, and the day turned out beautifully.

Last year, for the second blogiversary, we visited the St. Anne Shrine in Sturbridge, MA, which was a little farther away than Isle La Motte and came with its own set of pilgrimage-type suffering, but it also was just a perfect way to celebrate the day.

This year, we decided to go even farther away (mostly because there wasn’t any closer St. Anne Shrine), and we were originally planning on going this coming weekend, but sort of last minute decided to go this past weekend — school ended Friday and we left right afterward to go to Scranton, PA, where the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Ann is. How cool! St. Anne has her own national shrine! It has an amazing history.

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First I have to back up and say, since it was such a long drive we decided to stay overnight, so our plan was to spend Friday driving to the hotel and swimming in the hotel pool, and going to the Shrine on Saturday. Have any of you ever used the web site Six Suitcase Travel? They provide info on places for families of 5-8 to stay together in one room (as opposed to broken up into two hotel rooms, which is what we always have to do), and when I saw TownePlace Suites in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as one of the places they recommend, I was sold! So fun to see my name on the hotel. 😁

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(Beautiful, beautiful country, and up so high!)

They didn’t actually have any of their big rooms available, so we had to go the two-room route, but they put us next to each other (never a guarantee), so that part worked out well. I admit I was feeling a little bit like we weren’t being pilgrimage-y enough, since we were staying at a hotel and swimming, etc., but God finds a way! His mysterious ways! And His sense of humor! As we were checking in we were informed that their pool was closed for that night only. 😒 Fortunately they’d arranged for their guests to use the pool in the neighboring hotel, so all we had to do was go across the parking lot, but, you know, it just made it that much less easy. Fortunately the next morning their pool was open again, and they had a noon check-out time!, so we thought we’d enjoy the complimentary breakfast in the the hotel, swim for an hour, then check out and go to the shrine. Which we did, but I’m thinking the chlorine levels were extra high in the pool because of having just been cleaned? Because the boys were wailing with pain for the next couple of hours, no joke, despite rinsing eyes in the shower and the sink, and their eyes were still red and puffy at lunchtime. Poor kids. All we tried to do was have a little fun! 😭

Anyway, so we went to the Shrine, and I was trying so hard to bring my mind to a prayerful, pilgrimage-y place, despite the wailing children and my son (the one who threw up during the car ride on our St. Anne trip last year) looking at me with a green face and saying, “Mom?” while hiccuping (he didn’t get sick, thank goodness). I was thinking of you all and all your intentions, and how grateful I am for all of you and all of this.

My goals when I go on these trips are threefold: (1) to visit the church and say my prayers, and also to light a candle if possible; (2) to take some pictures; (3) to go to the gift shop. So (1) turned out to be impossible, because there were baptisms going on in the church at the exact time we were there — I peeked from the vestibule through the inner doors to see if we could go in, and there were a bunch of people right in front of those doors, so we didn’t even get to see the inside of the church. Can you believe that? We only had a certain amount of time carved out to be there, so we couldn’t wait for the baptisms to be over. And there were candles in a little grotto next to the church, but the gate to them was closed and locked.

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(See the gated area on the left? With the boxes stored behind the gate? That’s where the candles were.)

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(Close-up of one of the many gorgeous St. Ann (they spelled it without an E there) and Our Lady statues. I love the throne.)

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(The front doors of the basilica.)

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(A side door. I loved the words above the door. ❤)

Number (2) worked out okay — I took a bunch of pictures, including some of the many, many dedicated benches and bricks, as well as the different statues on the grounds.

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(You know I loved seeing all the names, and I was so moved by the devotion and gratitude to St. Anne for her intercession. ❤)

(One guess as to what Frank X.’s middle name is. 😉 And I loved sweet Husband Robert’s gift to his departed wife.)

I’m going to post the pics of the saint statues on Instagram — I’ll have them up by the end of the day!

And (3) was a total bust as well — though there were no hours for the gift shop listed on their web site, there was a sign on the door saying it closed at noon on Saturdays. We were there at 12:45.

It felt a little silly that the entire point of our trip was to visit this shrine, and most of what I wanted to do there wasn’t possible. But we did offer our family rosary for the intentions I wanted to pray for: For all of you and your intentions; for your babies both living and deceased; for those who are hoping for a baby, and those who are struggling with parenthood; and in thanksgiving for all of you and the blog and all that’s happened because of it.

We also added something to our trip that felt meaningful for our mission — my maternal grandmother was Anne, and when St. Anne — grandmother of Jesus — made herself known as the patroness of the blog, I immediately thought of my own grandmother Anne, and how cozy and homey it always was with her, which is how I think of us all together. My grandmother, who went by Annie and whose actual married name was Annie Oakley, is buried in a tiny rural cemetery next to a tiny rural church in a tiny rural Pennsylvania town (google maps had a hard time finding it!). The last time I was there was when my grandfather was buried next to her twenty two years ago, and with a slight adjustment to our route we could stop there on the way home.

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(David X. and Annie. One guess what my grampa’s middle name was. 😉)

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(We said some prayers. Those little folded hands. 💕🙏 My uncle is also buried there — my grandparents are on the left, my uncle on the right, both with flags.)

We also stopped to have dinner with one of my sister-friends, which was wonderful, and we pulled into our driveway around 11pm that night. What a trip!

I’d really wanted to get something for you at the gift shop — something for a giveaway — and I was really intrigued by the St. Ann oil I read about on the Shrine’s web site. But instead, I’m delighted to give away three St. Anne chaplets from HandmadeCatholicShop on Etsy. I really love that the shop gives “quarterly donations to both the Catholic Church and American Troops overseas” — how wonderful!! To enter the giveaway, just click here — the giveaway will run until midnight on Friday, and I’ll notify the winners via email on Saturday! 🎉🎉🎉

St. Anne, pray for us!

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Baby name consultation: Less popular first name + virtue middle for baby boy

Sam and her husband are expecting their third baby, their second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Raleigh Justice (girl)
Dominic Valor (boy)

Aren’t the virtue middle names so cool? Sam and her hubs want to continue that for this baby too. She writes,

We’re stuck. I never thought it would happen. I think that it’s because we both just KNEW we were having a girl, so girls names were easy. We’re having a boy though, so we need a name for him. I’m stuck on Becket, but my husband isn’t into it … I have been wanting something with a Marian type devotion but [my hubs] doesn’t have the same devotion or leanings. I’d like saintly names, but again, he doesn’t care. I like older, less common names. Nothing difficult or anything … I think we often love Irish names, even though we have no Irish connections as far as I know … We are thinking of the virtue middle of Prosper, because it’s a family name on [hubby’s] side. We’re open to other virtue middles, but I think we’re kind of really liking it. *I* would love to make it more of a family name because this little one is due about the same time [my hubby’s dad] passed away last year. His dad’s name was Lambert Richard, though [my hubs] doesn’t want to use either of those. Just figured I’d mention it.”

Names they’ve discussed include:

Elliott
Becket (“best name ever to me“)
Galen
Logan
Ransom
Blythe
Conor (“we actually both like this one“)
Tyler
Tristan

And her Mister doesn’t like “sing songy or rhyme-y” names, nor John/James-type names, and Sam doesn’t care for Logan.

As I was reading Sam’s email, my very first idea before I got to the end was Ransom — and there it was on their list! So I hoped that was a good indication that I might be able to come up with some ideas they might like.

Okay, so first, I wanted to point out some things about the names they’ve used and like that helped me with coming up with ideas for them:

— Elliott and Becket both have that T ending, and Tyler and Tristan are T heavy
— Dominic, Beckett, and Conor all have a hard C
— Raleigh, Elliott, Becket, Logan, Blythe, Conor, and Tyler all have usage as surnames
— Logan and Blythe have decent use for girls as well (in fact, I only know Blythe for girls as a first name, though Gilbert Blythe is also a strong association) (Logan is still predominantly a boy’s name, at no. 18, but still top 500 for girls at no. 384)

I really latched onto the first three points (names with prominent T’s and C’s, and surnames) when coming up with ideas. I also took into account how they like Irish names and names that aren’t too popular.

Regarding popularity, I thought it would be good to rank their ideas by popularity, just to see where they all fall (these are the most recent stats—2016):

Logan: 18
Dominic: 72
Tyler: 91 (pretty steep decline from no. 10 in 2000; also no. 877 for girls)
Tristan: 108
Elliott: 192 (Elliot is 180)
Conor: 323 (but Connor is 54)
Becket: Not in the top 1000 (but Beckett is 213)
Galen: Not in top 1000
Ransom: Not in top 1000
Blythe: Not in top 1000 for boys or girls
Raleigh: Not in top 1000

They clearly like the rare names! I’m going to guess the 100–300 range is a comfortable one for them though.

Regarding Sam’s FIL’s name — I know she said her husband didn’t want to use either Lambert or Richard, but since Sam included them in her email I thought she might like some ideas of how to honor him by name, so I looked them both up just in case some variant seemed like it could work, and I found two that I kind of like for them:

Rico: I know this could be too Rico, Suave or mob-like/criminal, but otherwise it’s such a cool variant of Richard.

Baer: This was listed on Behind the Name as a short variant of Lambert, stemming from the “bert” part, which derives from the Germanic “beraht” (meaning “bright”) and becomes “bert” in some names and “baer” in others. It’s pronounced like “Bear” (the animal), and I have a fondness for animal names like Bear and Wolf for boys — they seem so rugged and masculine. The Baer spelling is really cool and a subtle but explicit nod to Sam’s FIL. (Read more about Baer here.)

For other ideas, you all know that I always look up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — it often gives me good direction. I also had some ideas of my own. Based on all that, I wondered what they would think of:

(1) Santino
I’m starting with one of my most out-there ideas! It was the first idea that came to me, and it was based on the softness of Raleigh and the masculinity of Dominic … I was trying to think of any names that I might consider both soft and muscular, and Santino came right to mind. It’s Italian for “little saint,” which is a sweet and faith-y meaning, but most guys (maybe most people in general?) will remember it as Sonny’s given name in The Godfather, which is where it gets its manly oomph from. Because of the movie association, I don’t think I would ever think of this name as possible for a little guy, except that one of my boys went to school with a Sonny, which I fell in love with as a name for a boy after seeing how adorable he was, and all year I was under the impression his given name was Sonny itself, and then when I saw his name on the school roster at the end of the year and saw it was actually Santino I just about died with happiness. Haha! (I totally get it if this is too much though 😉)

(2) Campion
In addition to the characteristics of the names Sam and her hubs like that I listed above, I also noticed that she said she’d love a Marian component — you all know I LOVE when parents want to use Marian names for boys! That definitely needs to happen more often! So based on their liking of names with a hard C, and surnames, I thought of Campion — it’s probably best known as the last name of St. Edmund Campion (and as a surname it actually means “champion”), which is an amazing connection in and of itself, but it also has a Marian connection: The rose campion flower was known in medieval times as Our Lady’s Rose! I love the nickname Cam for a boy.

(3) Roman
One of the things I love to do when I look up names in the BNW is see if there are any names listed as similar to more than one of the names on the parents’ list — I feel like it gives a really good sense of names that are likely to be on point, if they’re listed in more than one name’s list of similar boy/girl names. Roman is one such — it’s a style match for both Dominic and Elliott! I love that it’s connected to a place, which makes it go well with Raleigh in my opinion, and it’s got a heavy faith-y feel, like Dominic.

(4) Garrett
Noticing the end of Elliott and Becket (which can also be spelled Beckett), and also Galen and their affinity for Irish names and surnames, I wonder what they’d think of Garrett? It’s ranked at no. 308, which is such a sweet spot for names. It’s from a surname that derived from either Gerard or Gerald, and St. Gerard Majella is patron of pregnant mamas and childbirth, such a great patron. And I’ve heard of it used in honor of St. Margaret, which is so cool (and can also be for St. Rita, since Rita is a diminutive of Margaret, and in fact St. Rita’s given name was Margherita).

(5) Dermot or Declan
Again with the Irish names, and the T and C sounds that they seem to like, I wonder if they’ve considered either Dermot or Declan? Declan’s at no. 109, and Dermot’s not the in top 1000, so both seem to fall in their comfort zone popularity-wise.

(6) Kolbe
Kolbe feels similar to Raleigh to me — a softer surname — but it’s also for the amazing St. Maximilian Kolbe, who is one of the best patrons for a boy AND he had such a devotion to Our Lady that I think it could be considered Marian as well! Kole is a great nickname in my opinion, and Kolbe’s not in the top 1000 (the same-sounding Colby is at no. 530).

(7) Case or Casey or Cashel
Bl. Solanus Casey is an amazing guy — his beatification was just recently announced, and I believe he’s the first Irish-American blessed — and I know of a little boy named Case in his honor, which is really cool. The full Casey is an even closer option, and has that unisex usage that some of the names on their list have, and of course it’s also a surname. And both Case and Casey make me think of the place name Cashel — the Rock of Cashel in Ireland is where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster, and it allows for the awesome nickname Cash.

(8) Kyler or Cuyler
Kyler/Cuyler (pronounced the same) were inspired by Tyler on their boy list and the fact that Sam told me they considered Skye and Skylar for a girl. Cuyler is a Dutch surname that Ancestry.com says is likely a variant of Nicholas, which is pretty cool, and Kyler gives it a more Celtic feel a la Kyle, which is from a Scottish surname.

(9) Tycho
My last idea is, like Santino, kind of a crazy out-there idea, but it has both the T and C sounds Sam and her hubs seem to like (pronounced TY-ko), and it’s a saint’s name too! I think it’s most known as the name of scientist Tycho Brahe, and it has the same sound as the Tyco Toy company, which always makes me think of toy trucks, which is a fun association for a little boy.

Finally, I wanted to offer some virtue name ideas in case Sam and her hubs decide not to use Prosper. This list at Nameberry and this one at Appellation Mountain inspired me to suggest:

— Brave/Bravery (a la actor Benjamin Bratt’s son Mateo Bravery)
— Clement (which is also Marian!)
— Loyal
— Merritt
— Noble
— Revere
— Sterling

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Raleigh and Dominic’s little brother? Any first name + middle (virtue) name combos jump out at you?

Baby name consultation: A, M, E name for baby no. 3

Amy is one of the very first mamas I ever did a consultation for, and I’m so excited that she and her husband have another little one on the way, a baby girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

Kristy Marie
Martin Kane II (called Kane) (birth announcement here)

I love each of those names! Amy had explained that Kristy was named “after the two greatest people I could think of — Christ and Mary, giving honor to God first (and in our 1st born) and my love/connection to Mary,” which is just so amazingly beautiful. And Kane is named for his dad (Martin Kane) and his grandpa (Martin Craig; goes by Craig, like Kane goes by his middle), and the II is a nod not only to his dad, but to JP2 as well. What a cool way to do it! And Kane has dad’s middle name, and Kristy has Amy’s middle name — so many meaningful connections!

For this baby, Amy writes,

One thing I noticed later was, while common, we ended up picking names that actually have several different spellings and people get it wrong sometimes. This can bother me a tiny bit at times.

Another fun thing that unintentionally happened was we ended up with the initials KM and MK, opposites of each other. We use these sometimes as shorthand in text and Kane’s name sign is just MK finger spelled (my husband asked for that, to honor/include the Martin part and we are proud of it) [read more about name signs here]. Sometimes I call them by both their first and middle names together so they know them. So I kind of like the idea of maybe an M name, to keep a sort of pattern — K and K, then (technically) M and M, or K/MK/M. It might be fun, but not necessary.

I would also like to veer AWAY from K names. I am not sure I want to be stuck with that pattern, especially if we want have more kids (plus initials KKK???). I do like that my brother and I were Amy and Adam with matching first letters, and I had cousins Kelly/Karen/Katie. Husband, however, seems to only come up with K names. He wants the names to match somehow. I might consider a C name that has a K sound, like Catherine for example.

Interestingly enough, both my kids are names that I NEVER would have thought of, I don’t really consider ‘my style’ or ones that I even really like. But yet, I LOVE them because we ended up realizing that there were about 600 reasons to name them what we did, I LOVE the meanings and they just absolutely fit or feel right. They could be no other.”

(That’s one of my favorite parts of their name story! I love when parents love their kids’ names, even if they didn’t start out that way!)

I don’t really like nicknames or names that can easy hand themselves over to nicknames. I know, this makes you sad 😉 I would to just prefer to name my kid what I intend/want them to be called. But I did like your article on nick names as a first name vs a formal first name. Good thoughts and comments.

I would like to name after my family somehow. Kristy and Kane are both heavily from Marty’s side. He also named both of them (I kind of want a turn, wink)… after they were born (we went into the hospital with little to no firm ideas for both). So I am trusting in his instinct a little bit still. Mostly because I am lacking in ideas… again.”

Except she isn’t! Amy has some great ideas! I’m going to start with her middle name ideas, because they have bearing on what the first name might be:

Victoria (“after my mom … I think I might regret not using it if I don’t (What if we don’t have more kids or more girls?). Marty knows this and he is on board, knowing that will probably be her middle. But one ‘problem’ (if you can call it that) I might see with this is, it’s pretty long (one of the rare 4 syllable names) making it kind of hard to pair with other names. I feel like I would need something short/er (no one syllable names jumped out at me). Especially because the other kids names are pretty short and easy to say (KM is only 4 syllables combined, MK is only 3, combined“)

Elizabeth (for Grandma Betty)

Fiat (For “Mary’s yes,” of course [not the car!] — from the Latin for “let it be done” … “Now this I would ONLY pair with Marian … This is something that I have considered ever since my first pregnancy … I would want that as a reminder or for her to say yes to God’s will, whatever that may be for her“)

I just have to jump in here and say, ever since Amy suggested the combo Marian Fiat in a comment a while ago I’ve been smitten! What an ah-MAZ-ing idea!

For first names, Amy and her hubs’ list includes:

Molly (“So there is one name that is bothering me. It randomly popped into my head one day in daily Mass and I haven’t been able to shake it — Molly … Marty recently said that he thinking more about it too (a good sign he would agree to it). To me it has the same feel as Kristy and Kane — similar time period feel, a name I never considered or even really liked, but it seems to fit (when I picture her or saying her name). It’s short, and seems to fit with Victoria. I like that it has 5 letters (all the other cousins have 5 letter names, Kristy is 6, Kane is 4, not important, but a fun fact/connection). It’s common enough to be known as a real name and not something that is too ‘out there’. But it still seems sparse enough in use that it is not ‘top ten’ or even top 100 (I think). It is easy to say/spell and doesn’t have a nick name. It is sweet/cute, but I think it can be an adult name too. In my mind, this name would be my attribution to my inspirational grandmother Millie. I just changed one letter/sound. I figure if (for example) Bill can come from William (different letter), why not? I think about the nicknames you come up with a lot of times. Many of them seem like kind of jump to get to with maybe just 2 similar letters or something. Plus with Victoria it would come from both my paternal side (Millie, great grandmother) and maternal side (Victoria, grandmother)

Katie (“I mentioned my husband keeps thinking of K names. His main suggestion is Katie, and he said he was going to stick to that unless I/we came up with something better. He likes that it seems to match Kristy (starting K, ends in the e sound, both have a t and 2 syllables). I agree and I don’t think it is a bad suggestion. It’s just … we already have a Katie in the family (a cousin, and like I said, I have a cousin Katie) and we wouldn’t really be naming after her/them, we are not especially close. It is also a form of Katherine. A name he wanted forever with Kristy’s pregnancy (while I respect the name and think it is good, I don’t really like it and I already have a cousin who used it so I don’t feel comfortable using it) and the original form of his mom’s name (Kathleen — again, after his family)“)

AVE initials (“I like the idea of A names, but can’t seem to land on one I like.
This mostly came from your idea in Kane’s consult, that the initials would be AVE (a round about way to honor Mary) — cool! [Their last name begins with an E.] I might even consider using Ave as a nickname (!). It’s not the top ten Ava, but it might be mispronounced/misspelled all the time (and does it match Kristy and Kane?). If I went with this idea, I would actually want to avoid A names that also have a V in them and/or that end in A (cutting out some great ideas). This is because it would be specially paired with Victoria and it seems like too many of the same sounds/letters repeating, rhyming or too matchy matchy. I also like that an A would kind of be naming after me. We have the K in our current kids, but also an M for Marty. It might be nice to round out with an A for me. And A names tend to be pretty. I like Azelia/Zellie because it reminds me of my Aunt/Godmother (and Kristy’s) Lynelle, we always called her Nellie. She was just diagnosed with a rare heart cancer … That is a name that I feel is more my ‘style’ that I tend to be drawn to and like. Makes me think of a pretty white flower but without blatantly giving an obvious flower name like Rose/Lily. I doubt Marty would be on board for this one … [and] is it too long, ‘out there’ compared to KM & MK“)

Begins with E (“I also like the idea of E names. I really believe that I named Kristy with a K after an inspirational friend of mine, Kyla, who passed away when I was pregnant with her. I didn’t realize this until later as the Kristy spelling just jumped out at me and was the same one that Marty thought of (without discussing it with each other). Recently I have had another inspirational friend, Ellen, pass away and wouldn’t mind considering a mild honor name for her too. I remember really liking Evelyn when I was pregnant with Kristy. But like the A names is it too many of the same letters/sounds when paired with our last name (plus a v sound in there). Evelyn also recently became very top tenish. Marty’s mom’s middle name is Ellen and he has suggested it, but again, always his side never mine. I guess there is Elizabeth and my mom suggested Emily, which is not bad, but I have no connection to it“)

For reference, some of the boy names on their list include:

Adam Craig
James
Magnus
Lincoln
Calvin

Okay, so I reread the consultation I did for Kane before working on this one, which was a good refresher. I also really like Amy’s reasoning behind her ideas of an M name or an A name, and I really took those into consideration when trying to think of names for this baby.

Mostly though, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of Molly Victoria!! Ohmygoodness I love it so much! Molly is a variant of Mary, so Amy would have her nod to Mary, but it’s kind of a sneaky one because not everyone knows it’s a Mary variant! I think it goes really well with Kristy and Kane, and Amy would have her M name, and it sounds amazing with Victoria! I love that it has five letters, and is so similar to her Grandma Millie. Amazing! So that one gets my very heartiest vote. (I also still love Marian Fiat!)

I’m also interested in Amy’s husband’s idea of Katie, as she’d said she’s not really into nicknames. Because of that, I wondered what she’d think of the spelling Cady? It sounds exactly like Katie, but is less nicknamey. It might make people think of suffragette and civil rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which isn’t terrible at all, and I also found that there’s a Blessed Madeleine Cady épouse Desvignes, which is pretty cool.

I still love the AVE idea for them, and I think Ave would be such a cool nickname! I’m not sure I would necessarily think of it as a style match for Kristy and Kane, but nicknames don’t really have to be similar in style I think. Azelia is unusual, but so pretty, and I have some other A ideas for them below.

I like Amy’s E ideas as well—Ellen, Evelyn, Elizabeth, and Emily are all beautiful, substantial names. I have some more E ideas below as well.

I’m intrigued by “just Betty”—I wonder if they would be interested in using that? Since it was the name Amy’s grandmother went by? Betty Victoria is really cute, and I’ve been seeing Betty pop up here and there (Kendra at Catholic All Year has one). Kristy, Kane, and Betty are cute! I know Amy said she doesn’t care for nicknames, but there are some that can stand on their own (like Molly started as a nickname), and I feel like there are some that would be a great fit for their family (I have some ideas below), especially with the mindset that Amy prefers to name her little ones what she intends/wants them to be called.

Okay! Without further ado, here are my ideas for Amy and her hubs, helped out as always by the Baby Name Wizard, but also a good deal of my own ideas:

(1) Alison or Allie
I started out looking for A names that I thought could fit their style, and I thought Alison Victoria sounded really great! I also thought that Allie also fit their style, mostly because of Katie being on the list, and also Kristy (which can be a nickname for the Kristin/Kristina names) and Molly, which a lot of those sweet nickname-type names are style matches for. I quite like Allie Victoria. With both Alison and Allie, Amy would have her AVE initials.

(2) Abbey
I’m using the Abbey spelling as I think it looks less nicknamey than Abby—they could think of it as a monastery-type abbey, a cool religious place name. I love Abbey Victoria, and Abby’s actually a style match for Katie, Molly, and Emily!

(3) Anna or Anne
Both Anna and Anne give the AVE initials Amy likes, while being full non-nicknamey names, and also—St. Anne! I also like just Annie actually—I have a cousin whose given name is Annie, it’s so sweet.

(4) Ella, Ellie, or Edith/Edie
Ellen and Elizabeth both made me think of Ella and Ellie, both of which I think would be great first names if they decide to go the E route. I like that Ella and Ellie can nod to both Elizabeth and Ellen, so they wouldn’t have to choose Marty’s side vs. Amy’s side, you know? And they’re shorter, like Amy likes, instead of the very long Elizabeth. Ella and Ellie also made me think of Edie, which I think could be really cute with Kristy and Kane, but since it’s nicknamey I thought I’d also mention Edith, which has a similar feel as Grandma Betty’s name grandmothers’ name but is coming back again, both because of St. Edith Stein (in Catholic circles) and the fact that Edie is one of the cutest nicknames. (If they did just Edie, they could totally claim St. Edith Stein as patron.)

(5) Elaine, Elaina, Alana, Alaina
Continuing with the E theme, Elaine is a style match for Calvin, and I wondered if Amy and her hubs would like it. I know a little Elaina, which is a pretty variant, and the similar names Alana and Alaina could give them the A name they might be looking for.

(6) Maggie
Like Katie and Molly, Maggie is another one of those names that started as a nickname and has evolved to have some good use as a given name on its own. It’s also a style match for Katie, Molly, and Emily (and Abby from above). It sounds really nice with Victoria, and it also gives them the M that’s a nice continuation for the M’s in Kristy Marie and Martin Kane’s names.

(7) Madelyn/Madeline/Madeleine
At one point I started flipping through the pages of the BNW looking for A, E, and M names that I thought they might like, and Madelyn jumped out at me. I like Madelyn Elizabeth and Madelyn Victoria, and I like that Madelyn has a Y in it like Kristy—maybe a nice connection for sisters? I like the Madeline and Madeleine spellings too.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Kristy and Kane? Is anything here helpful or inspiring?

St. Francis de Sales Writing Contest: First Place Winner

I had the great blessing of instituting a writing contest at my alma mater this spring, the middle/high school where my dreams of being a writer were encouraged and supported by wonderful teachers, and which provided a great springboard for my studies of writing, literature, and language in college and grad school, all of which led to me actually being able to call myself a professional writer. I’m so pleased to be able to encourage the current student writers in the way that I was! ❤

I named the contest for St. Francis de Sales because he’s the patron of authors, the Catholic Press, and writers in general, and he’s one of the saints I’ve chosen as patron of my own writing — I’m constantly asking for his help and intercession, that my writing serves God in the way it’s supposed to. For sure, this blog and all that has come out of it has been an answer to that prayer!

This is the first of what I hope will be many years of this contest, which will focus on the intersection of faith and writing through the topic chosen. For this, its inaugural year, the topic was: What Confirmation name did you or will you choose, and why? You might remember I’d written an article for CatholicMom.com last year providing guidelines on choosing a Confirmation name, which included a quote from my bishop, Bishop Scharfenberger, and the students were directed to read it before writing their essays.

Setting a high bar for a writing contest includes having good judges, and I was so thrilled to have secured Ms. Kate Blain, editor of my diocese’s newspaper The Evangelist; Mr. Giovanni Virgiglio, Superintendent of Schools for the Albany Diocese; and Fr. James Ebert, current pastor of Mater Christi parish in Albany and former chaplain of my alma mater, as well as a 1999 graduate. The contest was open to tenth and eleventh graders, and they should all be proud to know that the judges commented to me on what thoughtful teens they are, and what a hard choice it was.

Two winners were chosen, with the first-place winner receiving $100 and publication of his essay on CatholicMom.com; the second-place winner’s essay will also be published on CatholicMom.com. Ms. Blain at The Evangelist has also expressed interest in publishing the essays! All in all, the contest turned out just as I’d hoped — a true encouragement of faith and writing.

I’m so pleased to present the first-place essay, which posted today on CatholicMom!

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Currently popular Catholic names

In Monday’s consultation an interesting question was raised. The mom of the post, Kym, had said:

names often heard in Catholic circles: Rose, Therese, Mary-Agnes, Bernadette, Zelie — all would be out.

Cara commented,

I would love a post or follow up on what names are Catholic popular? The only one that comes to mind is Zelie.. . . . . Would love to hear your opinion on others

And Kym shared,

In my area, the Catholic popular names are: Therese, anything with Mary or Anne (Anne-Marie, Anne-Elizabeth, Mary-Grace, Mary-Helen), Kateri, Bernadette, Gianna, Zelie, Genevieve, and I’ve come across a lot of Veronicas.

Boys would be Benedict, Joseph, John Paul, Michael, Francis, Dominic, etc…”

What a fun topic to discuss! It’s related to but just a little different from the lists of Unmistakably Catholic boy names and girl names we compiled recently.

When I think of Catholic popular names, I think of the names that are being used a lot *now* — not the names that have always been popular with Catholic families, but the ones that are popular with 21st century Catholic families. There’s some good overlap, for sure, but not totally, especially when it comes to the new saints/blesseds like Zelie, Kateri, Gianna, Chiara, Maximilian and Kolbe, and John Paul. I thought Kym did a great job listing the ones that show up frequently in current Catholic families; in addition to those I thought some others I might add would be (rifling through the Catholic families I know):

Girls
Caroline and Karoline
Catherine
Clare and Chiara
Cora
Edith
Evangeline
Faustina
Helen and Helena
Lily and Lillian
Lucy and Lucia and Lucille
Magdalene
Margaret
Rosemary
Seraphina
Stella

Boys
Augustine
Blaise
Fulton
Gabriel
George
Jude
Kolbe
Leo
Louis
Luke
Maximilian
Sebastian

In those lists (mine and Kym’s) I see a lot of distinctive names — names that parents choose because they’re not heard so much in secular (American) circles and they have great faith connections, like Kateri, Karoline, Chiara, Evangeline, Faustina, Gianna, Magdalene, Seraphina, Zelie, Augustine, Benedict, Blaise, Fulton, John Paul, Jude, Kolbe, and Sebastian. I also see the vintage/retro/nursing home names that are coming back in style in society as a whole: Agnes, Bernadette, Cora, Edith, Helen, Lillian, Lucille, Rose and Rosemary, Stella, George, Leo, and Louis.

I’d love to know what names all your Catholic friends are using! When you all get together, which names are worn by multiple children?

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 9 needs a name that’s not generally popular nor Catholic popular (and a few other rules!)

I hope all the dads had a wonderful Father’s Day yesterday!!

Kym and her husband are expecting their ninth baby — their fifth girl! She joins big sibs:

Alexandra Ruthmarie
Cassian William
Killian Michael
Bennett Jameson
Anneliese Francesca
Marigold Camillus
Miles Jonas
Sylvie Regina

Aren’t these amazing names?? I’ve actually referenced Kym’s little Sylvie Regina many times in posts and conversations because of how clever I think it is that it sounds like Salve Regina (“Hail Holy Queen”) — I love that!! And another really cool thing is that each first name has the same number of letters as its middle name. Didn’t they do a great job?!

Kym has a bunch of naming rules, and you know me — the more the merrier! I love a good challege! 😁 She writes,

First names that we cannot use:
Anything that infringes upon their middles or their nicknames. Examples:
No variations on Anne or Elizabeth since we already have Anneliese (Anne-Elizabeth).
Nothing Marian-that-starts-with-M since we already have a child often called Mary, etc.

No common first names or names often heard in Catholic circles:
Rose, Therese, Mary-Agnes, Bernadette, Zelie — all would be out.

Family and close friend names we cannot use include:
Gabriela, Sophia, Bridget, Rebekah, Anna, Felicity, Genevieve, Anastasia, Abigail, Azelie, Clare, Bernadette, Gianna, Emilia, Eleanor

I’d rather not have any more names that start with an A, M, S, or a hard C/K sound.

See how picky I am? And I haven’t even gotten to the rules yet! 🙂

Rules are:
First name must be a saint, or version of a saint’s name, or a holy association (like Marigold: Mary’s gold).
Middle name should be a family name.
Both first and middle should have the same number of letters. I noticed we had been doing this accidentally with kids 1-4, and when kids 5 and 6 also followed the pattern without intending it, we decided that’s just what we’d keep doing. Kids 7&8 worked out perfectly, too. We’ve never had to force a middle name we didn’t want just to make it work.

Potential family names we can use (feminize them or change them a bit to fit the same-number-of-letters rule) are: Luke, Rosa, DeeLane, Marcella …

First names that hubby really, really likes are Vianney and Juniper. So, Vianney Rosalie or Juniper Rosalie. Vianney is one of my favorite saints and has been on the list since our first child was conceived 13 years ago, but the name doesn’t suit me this time for some reason. And, while I really am drawn to Juniper Rosalie, I’m not sure if it’s too unisex of a name. I’m not thrilled with giving a daughter a name that isn’t easily recognized as being a female name. Alexandra, Anneliese, Marigold, and Sylvie just scream GIRL and Juniper ….doesn’t. Also, sometimes the “nipper” at the end bothers me. But the potential NN of Juni is pretty darn cute.

I really, really, REALLY like (but don’t love) the name Gemma and keep coming back to it. It’s delicate, girly, and sweet. Hubby proposed Gemma Lucia. We’ve wanted to name a baby after hubby’s godfather, Brother Luke, for a long time. Lucia works very well but I’m just not sold on it – Lucia to me right now seems so Catholic on-trend because of this being the year of the anniversary of Fatima, and Gemma sounds almost sounds too worldly/trendy. Maybe I’m being too picky. Argh! This is so tough!!!

A name that keeps popping into my head over and over is Goretti. I don’t even know where it came from since I’ve never before considered that to be a name, but it’s growing on me. I don’t know what would possibly work for a NN, though, and Retti and Retta are not something I’d like. Greta/Gretta could be used as a NN – and Greta it was a runner up with the last baby. But I’ve somewhat grown away from it.

I think Zoe(y) is precious but it’s so short and I don’t think it ages well. Hubby and I also like Savina but we aren’t convinced we want an S girl following another S girl. We’ve always liked the name Benedicta but we already have a Bennett. I like Isadora but hubby says no. I don’t think we can do any old lady names, as much as I like some of them. So no Imelda or Edith or Agatha or Leona/Leonie or Millicent. Gosh, I think Millicent is adorable though.”

Alright, I spent a lot of time on this, and I’m still not sure of my ideas! I actually had the privilege of doing a private consultation for Kym when Sylvie was on the way and, looking back at it, I had to cross three names off the list of ones I was going to recommend here because I’d suggested them before! I also found the rules about not wanting common names difficult because the names I’d usually go to for parents who don’t want top ten are the ones that are Catholic-common, which are also out per Kym’s rules! Amazing! I’m not being critical at all, it’ll be so satisfying if I can actually come up with something they might like!

I love both Vianney Rosalie and Juniper Rosalie, gorgeous! I see what Kym means though about Juniper feeling a bit too unisex next to her other girls’ names. Unfortunately, feel similarly about Vianney — though my major association with it as a current first name is Lindsay’s daughter from My Child I Love You, so it feels mostly feminine to me, a bunch of you have suggested it for boys on past posts, and one who said that because it’s exclusively male where she lives (France) using it for a girl would be akin to “a girl called John or Andrew.” I’m not campaigning against it! Just, if obviously feminine is their goal, neither Vianney nor Juniper might be quite right. On the other hand though … I so totally agree with Kym about Juni!!

Gemma Lucia is a fantastic combo! I definitely wouldn’t characterize Gemma as “too worldly/trendy” — sure, it has use outside of Catholic circles, and it has increased in popularity fairly rapidly since it entered the top 1000 in 2008 (it’s currently at no. 247), but I don’t see it as any different than their other kids’ names, all of which fit nicely into certain non-Catholic trends and popular sounds. I think it’s a great fit! As for Lucia being “Catholic on-trend,” I mean yes, it certainly is because of the Year of Fatima, but if you’re going to use it, using it during its big year is so great! But perhaps a different five-letter middle would be a better fit for them for Gemma? Tapping into the family names they want to use as middles, maybe Gemma Roser? Roser is a Catalan feminine form of Rosario, which points back to Rose (rosaries are so named because they’re meant to be thought of as a crown or bouquet of roses for Our Lady). Or Gemma Zella, where Zella is the German diminutive for Marcella?

I really like Goretti! And I do think Gret(t)a could work nicely as a nickname for it, or maybe Greer, especially as both Greer and Goretti come from Gregory. Etti (Eddy) could be cute too. I think there’s a chance that people they meet outside their Catholic circle might not be familiar, and so it might come across like Vianney and Juniper in the sense of not being very girly, but certainly Catholics should know it refers to a female saint. It reminds me of Cabrini, which I would have suggested to them if Kym hadn’t said no C/K names.

I love Zoe(y) too, and Savina’s cute too … Benedicta’s great, but Bennett … Isadora, Imelda, Edith, Agatha, Leona/Leonie, and Millicent are all a great bunch of names! And I actually don’t think of Leonie and Millicent as old lady names anymore — I have a cousin who’s 14 named Millicent/Millie, so it stopped being an old lady name to me ages ago, and while I know an old lady named Leona, I’ve only heard Leonie on more recent families wanting to honor St. Therese’s sister, so it too has a more youthful feel. And Edith’s coming back! I know a bunch of families who have considered it, and at least two who have named their babies Edith (here and here).

So those are my thoughts on the names Kym and her hubs have discussed/are considering; now on to my own ideas! I was mostly influenced by their seeming desire to have this baby girl have a name that’s as girly as their older girls’ names. I did use the Baby Name Wizard for inspiration, but I went more by my gut than anything. The names that I had on my final list that I crossed off because I’d suggested them last time were Verity, Juliet(te), and Elodie, all of which are consistent with this family’s style per the BNW, and all of which I still like for them in case they want to reconsider them. And I also really wanted to suggest Klaudia to them, as they were considering Klaus if the baby had been a boy, so if they wanted to reconsider their C/K rule I think it would be great! (Or Colette, if they like the idea of a Nicholas name for a girl. I love Colette.)

My new ideas are:

(1) Vesper
I think this name is unmistakably feminine, unlike Vianney and Juniper, and in sound it’s almost like a mashup of Vianney and Juniper. Its Catholic connection comes from “vespers” being the name for Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, but others might also know it as one of the Bond girls! I like the idea of Vesper Roisin (Roisin is an Irish Rose name, pronounced ro-SHEEN, and spelled in Irish as Róisín), and there’s actually a variety of rose called the Vesper Rose!

(2) Junia
This was actually the first idea I had for this baby, after seeing that Kym loves Juni but was uncertain about Juniper. Junia’s the name of a woman in the bible (some believe it was meant to be the man’s name Junius, others translated it as Julia, but the bible as presented by the U.S. bishops on their web site says Junia). One of the Hanson brothers (MMMBop) has a daughter named Junia Rosa Ruth, which is gorgeous. Junia Lucia would work, but maybe too matchy? Maybe Junia Lucie would work better? Junia Roser and Junia Zella are also fine.

(3) Delia
This was one of those gut-feeling names. It’s pretty and feminine and can be a short form of Adelia, which is a variant of Adela (several saints and blesseds so named), or Bedelia, which is an Irish diminutive of Bridget (but Kym said no to Bridget, not sure if this would count?) (there’s also Cordelia, which has no saint connections as far as I can tell). Like with Junia, Delia Lucia/Lucie, Delia Roser, and Delia Zella can all work. It also feels really close to DeeLane (from their list of potential middles) sound-wise, but I’m not sure what to do with that. (I also wondered if Delaney would make a do-able DeeLane tweak?)

(4) Edessa
Our Lady of Edessa is one of Mary’s titles — Edessa is the old name for modern-day Urfa in Turkey, and the title refers to an old miraculous image. It’s a lovely, feminine, non-M Marian name! I like Edessa Roisin.

(5) Natalia
This was suggested by my research in the BNW and I love it for this family! It’s feminine and gorgeous and really saintly — there are two that I know of — and fun nickname options like Natty, Tally, Talia, Lia, and Nolly. Natalia Rosalie is so beautiful! Natalia Lucille can also work for their Br. Luke, and Natalia DeeLane (or Natalia Delaney) also works, letter-wise.

(6) Zara
I loooove this idea because of what I discovered about it recently! First off, it’s a style match for both Gemma and Zoe, which I thought was so interesting, and it’s definitely uncommon in all circles. I wasn’t sure about saintly connections though, and when I went looking I discovered that it’s a Bulgarian diminutive of Zaharina, which is the Bulgarian and Macedonian feminine form of Zechariah! Wow!! (Hence the spotlight I put up here.) Zara Rose is pretty, but maybe too R heavy? Zara Lucy maybe, or Zara Luce (not only a nod to Br. Luke and Fatima but also Bl. Chiara Luce Badano)? Would Zara Lane work as a nod to their DeeLane?

(7) Esme
Esme’s a style match for Sylvie, and I’ve always thought it’s sweet and feminine. Being that it means “esteemed” or “loved” in Old French, they could make a holy association to Mater Amata (“Beloved Mother”). Esme Rose is gorgeous! It can also be spelled Esmee (Esmée), which could open up Lucia, Lucie, and Zella as middles.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister for this well-named crew?