Spotlight on: Kelly

One of you readers emailed me asking about the name Kelly! I haven’t heard anyone consider the name Kelly in a long time, it’s definitely in hibernation until its spring comes again (which it will, as it does for most names).

You know I love doing name research! So off to the dusty shelves I went and did indeed find a saint whose name is sometimes anglicized to Kelly: St. Cellach of Armagh. How cool! Behind the Name concurs that Kelly is a form of, as it spells it, Ceallach, whose meaning is uncertain but could include “bright-headed,” or from Old Irish ceallach “war, strife” or ceall “church.” I love the “church” meaning!

And in fact, that ties into another very cool thing about the name Cellach: there was a Cellach, the Abbott of the monastery at Iona (not the St. Cellach mentioned above), who fled raiding Vikings with his brethren and went to the Abbey of Kells (though “kells” here not having any connection to Cellach), which had been founded by St. Columba a couple hundred years earlier. Kells strikes me as a really easy way to update the name Kelly while retaining its Irishness and adding a shot of faith, no? Kells gave its name to the Book of Kells, the illuminated manuscript by those monks from Iona of the four gospels that has been described as one of Europe’s greatest treasures, and my favorite tidbit about it is that it “presents the earliest Madonna and Child image in any western manuscript” (source).

So I could see a Kelly taking St. Cellach of Armagh as patron, and loving the gospel/Marian/St. Columba connection of the similar-sounding and similarly spelled Kells. This could work for both a boy and girl, and in fact Kelly started as a male name, from the Irish surname. These days Kelly is nearly 100% girl (no. 514 for girls in 2016 as opposed to not at all in the top 1000 for boys), but thinking about St. Cellach and the Abbott Cellach definitely shows Kelly’s initial masculinity. I can also see parents loving Kells as a given name, and that might work better for boys these days.

For girls, names like Callie, Kayley/Keeley/Kiley, Ellie, and Zelie seem to have filled the Kelly spot for current parents, do you agree? But Kelly’s still familiar and fits in easily with those names I think.

What do you all think of Kelly? Do you know any little Kellys? Would you name your daughter Kelly, or have you? What about for a boy? Can you see Kelly working, or do you think Kells is a better option? Or neither?

 

Birth announcement: Blaise Michael!

I posted a consultation for my dear friend Rosey and her husband Brian back in May, and I’m delighted to share that her little guy has been born and named the amazing … Blaise Michael!!

Rosey writes,

I looked back at Brian’s list of names and Blaise was buried on page 2 and Michael was never a middle name he put with it. I’ve liked Blaise for a while, but thought it was a little too different. I really wanted to use Michael for two reasons, to honor my uncle taken too soon by cancer (he was 39 … about the same age Brian is now!) and also our parish prays the St. Michael prayer after every Mass, and I think now more than ever we can really use his intercession. We were considering George as a first name since there is a George on my mom and Brian’s dad’s side, but we couldn’t pair it with Michael 😜. So Blaise fell into place once we agreed on Michael as a middle name.”

I love love this name story!! I’m so pleased they ended up with a name Rosey loves, because I know she was having a hard time feeling excited about any of them, and I love the meaning behind the middle name — both the family connection and the St. Michael prayer. We do so need his intercession, defense in battle, and protection from evil!

I looked back at the consultation I’d done and was thrilled to see that I’d written,

… if they used something like Blaise or Jude for first names, I could see something more staid like Michael or Francis balancing them out really nicely and making them feel more comfortable with the overall effect (not saying Blaise and Jude are crazy, just a little more adventurous than their other ideas and and their other kids’ names … and actually, I love the idea of Blaise for them because they’re into track/cross country — you know, Blaise … like blaze … like super speedy! 😁)

Woo! 😍

Blaise joins his big sibs:

Kenneth Brian
Paul Vincent
Clare Patricia Rose
James Emanuel
Henry Joseph

Congratulations to this beautiful family, and happy birthday Baby Blaise!!

Blaise Michael with his family
(check out the shirts!! Rosey did them the week before the baby was born. SuperMom💕)

Talking about religious name changes for women at CatholicMom

My August column at CatholicMom.com posted today! Religious Name Changes for Women.

catholicmom_screen_shot-08.16.17

It was such a fun piece to pull together! I drew from the content and comments of these posts here, here, and here when writing it, and I have a few more posts on the topic of religious name changes if you want to read more, which you can find by clicking the Religious name change link under “Tags” in the sidebar. If you have any stories or info to add, please do so in the comments! I love finding out these beautiful traditions of our faith, and how they differ from Order to Order.

Birth announcement: Niamh Émilie!

Do you remember the spotlight I did recently on Niamh and Naomh? The mama who asked for the spotlight has let me know her little girl has arrived, and has been given the gorgeous combo … Niamh Émilie!

She writes,

Our daughter was born just before midnight on her due date, July 1st (Canada Day, and Canada’s 150th, which was fun as we are Canadian), and we did name her Niamh Émilie as planned. My husband and I both loved the connection you drew between the meaning of Niamh (radiance, brightness) and the feast of the Transfiguration, so we’ve made that (which is today!) her sort of name day. Maybe next year we’ll even get around to celebrating it, but this year we’re still adjusting to the noisy chaos that is three kids under four and didn’t manage anything beyond Sunday Mass as usual.

Several comments on the Niamh post mentioned concerns over the difficult traditional spelling of Niamh, and I agree that will be somewhat annoying for her as she grows, but I have an unusual name myself and it was never that big a deal; plus we just love the name so much, and dislike its phonetic spellings, so Niamh it is. Also, it turns out that Niamh is her uncle and Godfather’s favourite girl name, and what he would have liked to name a daughter of his own. Her whole name written out looks beautiful, as well; we feel it is something she can wear proudly throughout her life. Just at the moment though, she’s going by Niamhlet (pronounced Neavlet) or, as her big brother likes to call her, “Niamh the Beev”.”

Niamh the Beev!! Niamhlet!! SO CUTE!! I’m so thrilled that they went with Niamh after all, and I’m so happy that the Feast of the Transfiguration is her feast day — so cool! Her mama also let me know that Émilie is in honor of Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun. Such a beautiful, meaningful pair of names!

Niamh joins big sibs:

George Benedict
Mara Lucie

What wonderful taste!! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Niamh!!

Niamh Émilie and big sibs George and Mara

Baby name consultation: Help pick the right combo for baby no. 5/boy no. 3!

(I forgot to let you all know that I was going to be away on vacation last week! So sorry for the quietness of the blog! If you follow me on Instagram, you’d have seen that I got to meet and spend a few hours with Colleen from Martin Family Moments — it was so fun! She was so great! We talked and talked about all sorts of things, just like you do with your dear friends, and her hubby and kids hung out with my hubby and kids, and I got to meet two of her sisters, it was all just really familiar and family-like. It’s hard to make that happen when meeting someone for the first time — it’s a rare gift! Thanks again Colleen! 💕😘)

Christie and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Kolbe David (“After Maximillian Kolbe and David of Wales“)
Isaac Austin (“after a more obscure saint named Isaac of Cordoba with a super cool and relevant story and Augustine of Canterbury“)
Eva Therese (“after Mary the New Eve and Therese of Lisieux“)
Alexis Chiara (“after OL of Perpetual Help – Alexis means help in Greek – and Bl. Chiara Badano“)

Great names, right? I really love all the significance in each one, I love how they’ve incorporated Marian names in unexpected ways, and I love that I’m posting this on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of my very very favorites — happy feast day to Christie’s oldest!!

They have, as Christie put it, “a pretty specific naming schema” for their kiddos, and in fact “already have a list of names to consider, and just need help finding the winning combo” — I’m happy to participate in baby name conversations in any way that might be helpful! And I really love what Christie and her hubs have done so far, and the names on their list. As she explained,

Our kids’ names are like super-infused with meaning, Catholic dork style (and proud of it).”

(Yasssss!!! 👊👏😍)

Our boys are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and another saint who was a first evangelizer of the British Isles that honors their paternal heritage all over that region. Our girls are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and some sort of homage to Mary. We don’t care which name comes first of the two saints, just whatever sounds good.

A few other name preferences:
– We hate nicknames beyond infancy, and don’t want to give our kids names that they will never go by (just ask us: we’re a Christopher and a Christina). Obviously our kids do get nicknamed, but it’s things that won’t stick for forever.
– our last name is Collins, so no Phil, Tom, or other celebrity drinks/people ending in Collins!!! And my husband also threw out Nicholaus because that’s the origin of the last name Collins (I mean… ok, fine, hubs)
– I’m Italian/Cajun/Irish in heritage and we lived in Rome for two years and still study the Italian language and culture as a family. If only Marcellino Collins was, like, even okay-sounding LOL!
– not too obscure of a saint (minimum: must be able to find a holy card or book or something about the guy)

Finally, we want there to be some sort of pilgrimage that makes sense for their saint because our dream is that a high school or college graduation present will be a pilgrimage with just one parent and that child to “their” spot. For Kolbe, that will be Auschwitz, for Isaac it’ll be Cordoba (very southern Spain), for Eva it’ll be Lisieux, and for Alexis, Rome. So far that’s a pretty trans-European experience too.”

I loved reading all of this!! I laughed out loud in several spots, and I also think the pilgrimage idea is so cool.

Continuing,

For the heritage name: we’ve scoured all the early evangelizer saints and let’s be honest…we’re not naming a kid Cunegard or anything without vowels (or entirely composed of them), so it’s a bit restrictive. Here are the remotely good ones.

Aaron
Patrick
Aidan
Finnian
Andrew
Brendan
Kieran
Declan

For the saints-we-look-up-to name, there are lots. Some were tossed out because they were too out there for my husband (Ephrem, Cyril, Cyprian, Fulton). I’ve researched other ways to name a kid after each of them and I’ll include that info.

Augustine (Augustine, but we already used Austin…)
John the Apostle (John)
Gregory the Great (Gregory, Magnus)
Peter Damien (Peter, Damien)
John Paul (born Karol Jozef, Karol means Carl and Charles: John, Paul, Karol, Carl, Charles, Jozef, Joseph)
Ambrose (Gio and Giotto are Italian diminutives/derivatives: Ambrose, Gio, Giotto)
Benedict (established monastery at Monte Cassino: Benedict, Bennett, Monte)
Leo the Great (Leo, Magnus)
Bonaventure (born Giovanni, and he’s the Seraphic Doctor, if there’s anything there, Bonaventure)
Phillip Neri (darn you, Phil Collins, for being famous!: Neri?)
John Bosco (born Melchiorre, Forrest for a play on words – bosco = woods/forest, Bosco, John)
Thomas More (Thomas)
John Chrysostom (John)
Dominic (middle name was Felix after his father: Dominic, Felix)
Francis of Assisi (Francis)
Damien of Molokai (born Jozef: Damien, Jozef))
Francis de Sales (born Francis Bonaventura: Francis)
Peter Julian Eymard (Peter, Julian mayybbeeeee)
Louis Martin (we don’t like Louis, but maybe Martin)
Nathaniel (Nathaniel, Nathan)

Other names we like okay that are also saints:
Blaise
Basil
Luke/Lucas
Jude
Sebastian
Pio
Owen (St. Nicholas Owen)
Oliver

I love how Christie’s mind works! I loved reading all her ideas for naming after saints without using the exact name (who knew Gio and Giotto were Italian variants of Ambrose? So cool!).

I admit that at first I wasn’t sure what I could contribute, since Christie and her hubs have all their names pretty much figured out. But I did have some thoughts, both about the names they already have on their list, and even some new ideas that I think fit in well enough that they won’t hate them.

First off, I totally wouldn’t cross Italian names off their list just because they don’t have an Italian last name! Christie has Italian heritage, and as she said they lived in Rome and still study the language and culture as a family — to me, it would be kind of weird to not include Italian names in their considerations! Christie’s concern about it clashing with their last name reminded me of this post from Swistle, which discussed what her reader called the “Juan Pablo Jones problem,” and which I thought was spot-on. I especially like this bit:

I think it’s unnecessary for [your husband] to bring cultural appropriation into it when what you’re discussing is using names FROM YOUR OWN CULTURES. It sounds as if his concern is that other people will THINK it’s cultural appropriation: that is, if someone didn’t realize your cultural background, they might think you shouldn’t have used the name. I am generally on the side of worrying what other people think and of taking into account the society we live in (I don’t want to give a child a name that will make people think badly of her or of us), but this doesn’t seem like an issue here. First/last-name incompatibility could happen any time the parents didn’t come from the same cultural background, or any time a surname gets married out of usage. It seems like even (or especially) people hyper-aware of cultural appropriation issues would also be aware that the current particular surname doesn’t tell the story of the family background.”

So I’d say, use Marcellino with joy!

Secondly, working with the names they already have on their list, I felt like Finnian and Kieran from their British Isles list seemed like they’d fit well as first names with the other kids. I was also really struck by how many holy Johns they love, and if it were me, I would definitely take that as a sign that John is a slam dunk as a first name. I’ve also always loved that John goes in front of most any name for boys in a similar way as Mary for girls — I think a John ___ could easily go by John or a nickname of John, or the fn+mn as a double name (like John Paul), or the middle name, just like those girls with Mary ___ as a given name have traditionally found Mary, fn+mn, or just the middle name as options available to them that generally don’t raise eyebrows. I know I’ve said this a million times, but most of my dad’s first cousins who are women, as well as one of his sisters and his mom, are all Mary ___, and most of them go by their middle names in real life (signing their names as just their middles, or sometimes M. Middle), or by both Mary and the middle. And John is just the same in my opinion. Perhaps it doesn’t have the long history of use in that regard like Mary does, so maybe others might raise their eyebrows at a John ___ that goes by a double name or his middle name or whatever, but to me it’s an awesome option. I posted a huge John+ consultation post here, which might have some helpful info.

So I love the idea of John Aaron, John Patrick, John Aidan, John Finnian, John Andrew, John Brendan, John Kieran, and John Declan. I think they all sound just amazingly handsome and masculine but not overly macho or anything, just really nice combos. If it were me, I’d be tempted to call them by the double names because I’m so enamored of the John+ doubles! But even if he just went by John, I think they’d be pleased because John is an easy name to use and enforce that no nicknames are to be used. It’s great and solid for a man and increasingly unexpected on a little boy.

I also love the idea of going by the middle names, which I think might be more their style anyway, based on the names they’ve already used for their older kids — Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis don’t have the feel that a family that would choose John for a son would traditionally have, I think. So doing something unexpected with a little John’s name would be more expected in a family that uses a saint’s last name as a first, for example.

But even though I think John makes so much sense, because it honors all the Sts. John they love (and even St. Bonaventure, with Giovanni as his birth name), it does make choosing the patron saint and pilgrimage place difficult — which John would they focus on? Of course they could solve that by using the middle name as the patron and place, which is probably what I would recommend, especially since they don’t have any British Isles pilgrimage places represented yet among their kiddos.

So after swooning over all the John+ possibilities, my attention shifted to Leo, because when I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I was really struck by what a good fit Leo is for this family based on the names Christie and her hubs have already chosen and those they like/are considering: In general, there wasn’t any real overlap among the names that were listed as similar to the names they’ve chosen, BUT Leo was listed as a style match for Eva as well as Oliver, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix — I thought that was pretty significant! I loved the combos Leo Patrick, Leo Finnian, Leo Brendan, Leo Kieran, and Leo Declan, and I didn’t know if they’d be interested in going full Irish, but if so I also love Leo Padraig (a combo I had on my list for a while). They could of course use the middle name to choose the pilgrimage spot, but I looked up St. Leo the Great and his Wiki entry said he was born in Tuscany, which is an amazing place to visit, but not sure *where* in Tuscany they’d go? He’s buried in Rome, but they already have Rome on the list for Alexis … A cool tidbit is that he played an important role in the Council of Chalcedon, and Chalcedon is in Turkey today, so that would be a good option I think.

Looking more through the list of saints they love, I was struck by these things/had these thoughts that might be helpful:

  • I agree about not using Augustine since they already used Austin (which you all probably know is a variant of Augustine)
  • I love that Gio and Giotto are Italian variants of Ambrose, how cool!
  • Love Monte as a nod to St. Benedict!
  • Seraphim is used as a masculine name, which could make a cool middle name as a nod to St. Bonaventure
  • We considered the full Philip Neri as a fn+mn and I really wanted to use Finn as the nickname! If Christie and her hubs didn’t hate nicknames, this could get around the Phil Collins issue, but as it is, I agree with them—no Philip! Neri would be interesting … I also wonder if they would consider Finnian to be a double nod to St. Finnian and St. Philip Neri because of the Finn thing I just mentioned? Or maybe they’re hating my idea of trying to double up saints in one name!! Haha! No worries if so, I never get offended about differences of opinion in naming! And I’m certainly under no illusion that I have all the right answers
  • I love Melchiorre/Melchior for St. John Bosco! I love the idea of naming for the Three Wise Men anyway, and knowing that it also is part of St. Bosco’s name is so cool! It also reminded me of Malachy—I don’t know if St. Malachy fits the criteria they’re using to define “early British Isles evangelizer,” but he was the first native-born Irishman to be canonized, which is pretty cool
  • I wonder if they would be interested in Morey for Thomas More? This family named their son Thomas More and call him Morey, which is also a nod to Great Grandpa Maury (genius!), but I think Morey is a great name on its own and fine as a nod to Thomas More
  • I’ve never seen Felix considered for St. Dominic, very cool!
  • St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis de Sales, being both on their list, would make me want to use Francis as a nod to them both …
  • St. Francis de Sales has such great connections for this family—not only was Bonaventura his middle name, which could also nod to St. Bonaventure, but St. John Bosco was of course a devotee of St. Francis de Sales … again, I’m a fan of trying to tie together connections and honor lots of different people with one name, so I would find this all very inspiring—a way of checking several saints off their list of favorites with one child’s name. I’m not sure what name I would recommend though?
  • I thought of Christie on St. Peter Julian Eymard’s recent feast day; I discussed Julian a bit in my last consultation, which might be helpful?
  • I like Martin a lot, I always wonder why more people aren’t using it!
  • Love Nathaniel
  • I love Pio as a middle name! Ana at Time Flies When You’re Having Babies has a Joseph Pio, which I’ve always thought was an amazing combo
  • I would love to see them move Owen and Oliver from their “so-so” list to their “favorites” list! Oliver’s a style match for Eva, Leo, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix, and I know an Isaac who has a brother Oliver! I love St. Oliver Plunket. I also know an Isaac with a brother Owen (and a sister Olivia!), and St. Nicholas Owen is amazing!

One final thought I had was regarding an honor name for John Paul — I’ve seen Lolek considered a time or two as a first name, and we even discussed it as a possible “nickname” for Luke! So maybe Christie and her hubs would like to consider it as well? They seem to like the hard K sound (Kolbe, Isaac, Alexis, Chiara, and per their list Patrick, Kieran, Declan, Carl/Karol, Dominic, Felix, Luke/Lucas), and Lolek really does feel like an unexpected Luke.

And those are all my thoughts and ideas for Christie’s littlest guy! What do you all think? Based on all this, what name(s) and/or combo(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis?

Baby name consultation: Twin boys to join two big brothers with Old Testament names

My brother’s best childhood friend, Tim, who’s a former Major League baseball player, and his wife, Rosie, are expecting their third and fourth babies — twin boys! They join big brothers:

Noah James
Levi Patrick

I’m a huge fan of Old Testament names, so you know I love these brothers’ names!

Rosie writes,

Tim and I have been having a tough time agreeing on names so finding two boy names that work well together is going to be a challenge! … Info that I think will help: Our 5 year old is Noah James. Noah is a name that I instantly fell in love with at the start of my pregnancy with him. His gender was a surprise but I had a strong intuition that he was a boy and went to the hospital pretty set with that name, with Benjamin as a back up. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who loves the name as I just saw that it is still the most popular name in California. I would love to come up with names that are not as popular this time around. James is Tim’s middle name. He loves the name and wants to consider it as an option. While I love the name I feel like it has to be crossed off the list since it is Noah’s middle name.

Our 3 year old is Levi Patrick. We did find out the gender with him. We both agreed on his name early and didn’t have a back up. Patrick is my dad’s name.

If we were having a girl I had my heart set on Ruth Clementine or Ruby Clementine.

Boy names that I have always liked but Tim is not crazy about:
Ezra
Mattias — I’m not sure if the s ending works with our last name though?
Amos — ” “

Boy names that we both agree on:
Thomas — I like the combo of Thomas Everett, but again ends with an s
Nathan — my brother’s middle name
Luke — I feel like Luke may sound too similar to Levi?

The task of finding names that we both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together feels overwhelming to me!

I obviously have a Biblical theme going with our names but I’m not sure how strict I want to be with it. At the very least I want names that have a strong faith tie or meaning. I personally don’t have any emotional ties to Saint names as I was not raised Catholic.

Last thing — forgot to mention two names that Tim and I both like that we can add to our running list: Jeremiah and Julian (only hesitation with that name is that it does feel a bit feminine to me probably because we know someone by the name Jillian).”

I totally get how overwhelming it must be to do exactly what Rosie articulated so well: “finding names that we both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together” — exactly! It was really fun to work on this.

I really love Noah and Levi as brothers—they’ve done a great job picking names that are similar in style, which helps mitigate the popularity of Noah, you know? If they’d named their boys Noah (no. 1) and Liam (no. 2), then it would be really obvious that they’re into super popular names (which even in itself isn’t the end of the world—I mean, names become popular because they’re great names!). But using Noah and Levi (no. 42) shows that they’re into biblical names more than popular names, and the biblical style is timeless and enduring. So I think they’ve done great!

I also love that Benjamin was the backup for Noah, and it perfectly fits the style they’ve got going so far. Unfortunately, it zoomed up from no. 10 to no. 6 on the national chart this year, which they probably won’t love, BUT it’s really important to keep in mind that popular names today aren’t nearly as popular as popular names in the past. That is, Noah, as the no. 1 name, isn’t given to nearly as many boys per year as Michael was during its longtime reign as no. 1. You can read more about that phenomenon here and here, it’s pretty interesting, and should soothe their worries about popularity a little bit.

I can understand not wanting to use Noah’s middle name as the first name for one of their twins. I know a lot of families who have done that kind of thing, and don’t mind it, and even like it (one example here), but there are so many great names that I’d love to try to find names that will be unique to each of their boys in their brother set. That said, I also know a family who used Catherine as the middle name for two of their three daughters — one was named after Grandma Catherine, the other after St. Catherine of Siena. So if Noah’s middle name was a nod to Tim, they could feasibly make the argument that naming one of their twins James is in honor of someone else. Is Tim’s dad’s middle name James maybe? If the same name is used for two different children, in order to honor two different people, it could start to feel like two different names, you know?

I also looooove Ruth Clementine and Ruby Clementine!! They have great taste in names!

As for the boy names Rosie said they like/are considering, Ezra was actually my first idea for them before I even got to that part of their email! It totally fits the feel of Noah and Levi, including the length of four letters! Mattias (and Matthias) is a favorite of mine, and Amos is another great four-letter name with Noah, Levi, and Ezra.

Thomas Everett is an amazing combo, but I totally get what Rosie means about its “s” ending (and that of Amos and Mattias) running into their last name. I have a similar sensitivity, but even still, because of family considerations and names we just love, half of our boys have first names ending in the same letter our last name starts with! It hasn’t been the end of the world — indeed, I love each one of their names — and honestly, I don’t even notice that same feature of other peoples’ names. I didn’t even really notice it about my own name—Kate Towne—til I was naming my own kids. So funny!

Nathan is also great, and I like that it has family significance for Rosie; it’s also nice that it’s a biblical name, but not as old-timey as Noah/Levi/Ezra/Amos, which allows them to move in a new direction while still sticking with their established theme. (Not that they have to stick with their established theme!) I think I agree with them regarding Luke … although, if they named twin no. 2 Luke, they’d have a child between Levi and Luke, which makes it a bit easier than if Luke followed Levi directly.

Jeremiah is very consistent with Noah/Levi/Amos/Ezra/Benjamin, a great name! And I can see their issue with Julian as well—a lot of people love it because it’s a “softer” boy name, but others don’t care for it specifically *because* it has a softer feel. Another name that’s similar, I think, is Micah—it’s a great Old Testament male name, but a lot of people have used it for their girls because it has that softer feel, which means less people are naming their boys Micah because they don’t want to give their boys girl names. (I still love it though.)

Anyway! All that said, I think Rosie and Tim have a lot of good ideas to work with, and I came up with a few more ideas that I think they might like (I’ll do ideas for twin combinations after I list my new ideas). You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research, and my own ideas, this is what I came up with:

(1) Adam
I was really taken with the fact that Rosie and Tim gave both their older boys four-letter Old Testament names, so I admit I was on the lookout for others that would match. Adam is one such, and I like that it’s both less “whiskery” (meaning “old man,” and I say that in a good way—it’s so in style right now!) than Noah and Levi, but it’s also less popular than both of them, while still feeling current and familiar.

(2) Seth
I’m not sure they’ll love this with their S last name—some people love alliteration, and some don’t, and some don’t mind certain examples but not others. I love Peter Parker, for example—when done right, I love that an alliterative name can have a little superhero feel to it.

(3) Jude
After Ezra, this was my second idea for them, before I’d even really gotten into the meat of Rosie’s email. Not only do I love that it’s four letters and biblical, but I also like that it’s a New Testament name rather than an Old Testament name, just because it broadens their horizons a little bit (Levi has the cool distinction of being both Old Testament and New Testament, but I think it conveys more of an Old Testament feel). I also wondered if Jude might be helpful for them in their Julian discussions—the Beatles’ song Hey Jude was written for John Lennon’s son Julian, and I’ve seen parents use Jude as a nickname for Julian. Even if they don’t care for the idea of Jude as a nickname for Julian, maybe Jude mirrors the sounds of Julian enough to replace Julian on their list of possible names? It also has the extra bonus of being a nod to Tim’s mom (her first name is Judith, but she goes by her middle name) in a subtle way, if they wanted it to—only those who know her first name is Judith might get the connection!

If they like that idea, I wonder if there’s a way they could give the other twin a name that connects to Rosie’s mom’s name? Or they could also think of naming the other twin after Rosie herself, perhaps by using her maiden name as his middle name?

(4) Cole
Cole is an interesting idea, and I’m not sure what they’ll think of it. On the one hand, it’s listed as a style match in the BNW for Luke, and because it’s four letters I jumped right on it. It’s also a traditional nickname or variant of Nicholas, which is a biblical name, so if it’s important to them to have that connection between their boys, they have it. But of course, it doesn’t come across as biblical, so maybe that makes it a great choice or maybe that makes it a worse choice?

(5) Caleb
Similar in appearance to Cole, but bringing it back to that Old Testament feel, Caleb is a sweet name that a lot of people love, but at no. 44 it’s not overly popular—in fact, it’s really similar in popularity to Levi.

(6) Ethan
I don’t think many people think “biblical” when they hear Ethan, but biblical it is, and the fact that it doesn’t scream “biblical” might make it a perfect choice for this family—in keeping with their theme but branching out a little too.

(7) Eli or Elias
In looking up names in the BNW, one of my favorite things is when I see the same name or family of names pop up over and over as a style match for a bunch of names on the parents’ list. Eli and Elias were those for this family! Eli’s a match for Noah, Levi, Ezra, and Luke, and the similar name Elias is a match for Mattias, Everett, and Julian! Wow! I love them both, though I can see Eli being a nice twin match for certain names, and Elias for others. Eli can also be a nickname for Elias, so they wouldn’t necessarily have to choose. (Elias is the Greek form of Elijah, and much less popular at no. 93 as compared to Elijah’s no. 9).

(8) Gabriel
One of my favorite name books — predating even my beloved BNW — is Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma by Joal Ryan, and in it she describes a lot of the kinds of names that I’m calling “whiskery” as “flannel shirts”—cozy, familiar, old timey. I remember distinctly that Gabriel was one of those, and that the nickname Gabe especially brought with it an “old immigrant” feel. I personally love that, and both Gabriel and Gabe, and I think they fit in really well with Noah and Levi.

(9) Samuel
Not only is Samuel itself a style match for Luke, but its nickname Sam is a style match for both Ruby and Ruth—I love that! I feel like it’s really consistent with the kinds of names Rosie and Tim like overall, and Sam is one of the friendliest nicknames (which I also think of Gabe as). I actually really love Sam with their S last name—it has that superhero alter ego feel, and it feels like a solid man’s name.

(10) Andrew
I really liked seeing that Andrew is a style match for both Patrick and Nathan—pretty cool that it fits in with two such different styles of name! Like Thomas, Nathan, James, and Luke, it’s a great New Testament name that retains their biblical theme while still breaking out of it a little bit.

So those were all the ideas I had that were mostly based on my research, but when I started trying to pair up names into twin combos, I had just a couple more ideas, which I’ll explain below. I should also say that different parents prefer different approaches when naming twins—some want something very matchy; some want them to go together nicely but not be too matchy; and some just want to name them as if they were naming non-twins, with no intentional connection at all. It sounds like Rosie and Tim are in the middle: I still love how Rosie articulated that they want to find names that they “both really love, plus having them work with our existing boy names, AND making a cute twin pairing that isn’t too matchy but works well together,” so I mostly tried to find pairs that fit that.

No matter which way a couple decides to go, I do think it’s important for the names to be fair. That is, I imagine that if one twin were named for dad and the other twin wasn’t given a name with any family significance, that second twin might feel hurt as he grows up. You know? Another thing that I personally like—which Rosie and Tim may or may not care about—is balance. That is, I find it really pleasing when both twins have short first names or long first names. Or one has a short first and a long middle and the other has a long first and a short middle. Or they have the same first initial, even if (especially if) the names are different lengths, or the first initial has a different sound in each name rather than the same. So a lot of my ideas here are inspired by my own preferences, and I apologize to Rosie and Tim in advance if they hate my approach!

Ezra and Jude: When I first started reading Rosie’s email, and I was so struck by the fact that Noah and Levi both have four-letter biblical names, I immediately started trying to think of others, and Ezra and Jude were the two I immediately came up with and love. Noah, Levi, Ezra, and Jude are such a pleasing set of brothers! I also really like that it makes them all sound less like two singletons and a set of twins, and more just like four brothers.

Benjamin and Jeremiah: I love that these names are both long, Old Testament names AND they have the same number of letters! I get a little overly excited about twins having names with the same number of letters! My only hangup is that I don’t have any great ideas for nicknames for Jeremiah. I’ve seen Jem, which is super cute, but I don’t think it’s to everyone’s taste. Similarly, I’ve seen Miah, but I suspect that’s too feminine for their taste. Jer and Jerry are natural nicknames, maybe they’d like that? Ben is one of those great friendly nicknames.

Benjamin and Gabriel: This pairing is less matchy in length, but I know a few Benjamin and Gabriel brothers, so the names seem to go together really well. Also, Ben and Gabe both have that same friendly feel.

Benjamin and Jonathan: This is perhaps a less serious idea than the others—Benjamin and Jonathan are my brothers’ names, which could be kind of weird for them, given my brother and Tim’s friendship. But otherwise, I’ve always thought these two are amazing names for brothers. Jonathan can be Jon or Jack or Nate, all of which go great with Ben I think. If they wanted to get a little crazy, Jonty is also a traditional nickname for Jonathan, and I’ve seen Jamie used for Benjamin, and I’m kind of dying over Jamie and Jonty, cuuute! Jamie might also be an interesting way to approach Tim’s love of the name James without actually naming their son James.

Nathan and Andrew: Speaking of Nate, I’m also dying over brothers nicknamed Nate and Drew. I love that pairing! I love that Nate and Drew are both four letters, which is fun with big brothers Noah and Levi, while their given names are New Testament and longer, which breaks them out of their short Old Testament style (if they want to do so). (Andy is also a great nickname, but for whatever reason I’m loving Drew for them.)

Andrew and Adam: If they like the idea of matching initials, this might be a nice way to go. Andrew can be Drew, if they like the idea of the formal names having the same initials but the everyday names be different. Adam and Drew make a nice pair.

Eli and Ezra: Speaking of same initials but still having a bit of a difference, I like that the E’s of Eli and Ezra have different sounds—the long E of Eli and the short E of Ezra.

Gabriel and Samuel: I like that these names end in the same two letters, and I love Gabe and Sam together.

Caleb and Ethan: Same number of letters, both Old Testament names, I love this pairing.

Ethan and Elias: There are those matching initials again! When I was a little girl I loved coming up with matching-initial names for twins, haha! So maybe that should tell me that this approach isn’t a good one. But I love how they sound together, and I love that they have the same number of letters.

Benjamin and Nathaniel: This is another great pairing because of similar lengths—they’re just one letter different, and Nathaniel might be a cool way to nod to Rosie’s brother without using his exact name (some people like that kind of thing—honoring without using the exact name). Ben and Nate are great!

Thomas and James: If they decided to go with James as a first name, it might be nice to pair it with Thomas, as then they’d both end in S, thus taking something kind of annoying (the S running into the S) and making it a twin thing that they could share, while still having really handsome names. Thomas and James both have that really classic feel that’s biblical without feeling too biblical, and it would be cool to try to find a middle name for James that’s as great and somewhat unexpected as Everett.

Thomas and Andrew: This is another great pairing—two NT names, same number of letters.

Thomas and Nathan: Ditto the same number of letters, and both NT names. My only hesitation with this one is that Nathan has family significance and neither Thomas nor Everett do (as far as I know).

Those are my favorite pairings based on the ideas I came up with for Rosie and Tim, but I couldn’t help thinking of a few other biblical names that might be interesting additions to the mix. Specifically, Jared, Gideon, David, Jacob, Joshua, and Asher. I also really loved the idea of Samuel and Eli, since they share the same beautiful story in the bible, but then I wondered if that was over the top? Abel’s another one that’s been on my radar recently, as has Abram, and Grace’s Abe has me all 😍😍😍. I also love Thaddeus … it ends in S, but it has that nice length that could pair nicely with Nathaniel or Jeremiah or Benjamin …

I feel like I could go on and on! And looking back on my ideas, even though Rosie said, “I obviously have a Biblical theme going with our names but I’m not sure how strict I want to be with it,” clearly I just couldn’t bring myself to move away from it. So sorry if they were hoping for non-biblical ideas!

I know Rosie and Tim would love to hear your ideas, as would I! What name(s) would you suggest for the twin brothers of Noah and Levi?

My sister, Ven. Solanus Casey’s friend

I’ve mentioned before that my family believes my sister’s life is a miracle attributed to Ven. Solanus Casey’s intercession. In fact, my mom worked with the hospital whose NICU is where my sister was transported after she was finally revived at our local hospital after birth, the doctor who cared for my sister when she was in the NICU (who’s not Catholic, but believes my sister’s progress is beyond scientific explanation), and our bishop to compile all the info from her traumatic birth 33 years ago, and submitted it to the Vice-Postulators for the Cause of Fr. Solanus’ canonization. Though a different miracle was the one recognized by Pope Francis as evidence for Fr. Solanus’ beatification, my sister has been invited to participate in the Beatification Mass on Nov. 18 in Detroit, and we continue to thank God for Fr. Solanus’ intercession.

Our diocesan paper — who did a story on my sister several years ago when she was in high school — just ran a new story on her, published today: Once stillborn, local woman will take part in beatification of priest who may have saved her. It’s a pretty great article about a pretty great girl.

We and all who love Fr. Solanus would love to see him canonized! Please feel free to share this information, and please pray for his canonization!