Baby name consultation: Saintly surname style for third brother

Christina, who has an Etsy shop called The Rushnyk Room (“Beautifully repurposed rushnyks and vintage goods”), and her husband are expecting their third baby — a third boy! Little brother joins big brothers:

Shepherd Gerald (Shep)
Becket George (Beck)

I love them! They go together so well!

Christina writes,

We have decided to go ahead and use [husband’s middle name] Gray for this boy’s middle name … We (especially I) want there to be some kind of Catholic/Christian meaning. I loved Shepherd, because not only was it after The Good Shepherd, I also always loved the story of the shepherds at the nativity, and just thought it was a good name for a boy…a shepherd takes care of animals, lives in the outdoors, etc..we also love the nickname ‘Shep’ and our son goes by this often. Becket we got from St. Thomas Becket and we just liked the surname…a little more unique than just naming him Thomas and liked that he could go by ‘Beck’ as a nickname. We really like names that can be shortened, but this is not a total deal breaker….but I would prefer something that has a good nickname. So, we obviously like more unique names, but don’t want anything too strange…like we are trying too hard. ha

We already have a good list of names going, but hoping you can add to the mix.
Names we have been marinating on:

FISHER- After St. John Fisher, and again, similar to Shepherd, there are lots of fishermen references in the bible- Jesus, the apostles, etc..also, just a good ‘boy’ name. I really love this name … [but] really no good nickname for it. My husband thinks ‘Fin’ is just totally random and doesn’t make sense for Fisher, and Fish isn’t ideal.

AUSTIN- pretty common name, but we do like it. I googled that there actually is a St. Austin or is a nickname for Augustine (which I love bc I would love a baby Gus..but husband says no to that one…he is not down with the super Roman/formal/old sounding names…so no Maximilians, Boscos. etc), but I never knew that before…so doesn’t scream Catholic name to me…but maybe it is.

COOPER- I would like to spell it Cuper after St. Joseph Cupertino, but husband nixed that…so would it still be considered a saint’s name with this spelling? I am worried Cooper Gray would just be too secular for me…but I do like the name! We do love the nickname ‘Coop’.

FULTON- I love the idea of this name, but it just does not flow off the tongue that easily for me…if that makes any sense. Just wish it was a little more pleasing to my ears…but seeing if it grows on me.

PIERCE- this is actually also a family name as well, and I saw it is a form of Peter…similar to Fulton though…I really want to like it, but something about it just sounds harsh to my ears…but still in the running. We would also be using two family names if we did Pierce Gray, so not sure if that is totally kosher.

Other names we have thrown around…Cade, James, Patrick, Jack (a little common compared to his brother’s names, so not sure it would work, but we like those), Sawyer (not a saint’s name and too much ‘er’ with our last name, but it is a name we liked.

Um, I THINK that is everything! Do you think you would have anything to add? I feel like I have looked at so many name lists already!

Oh, and XAVIER! I love it, but husband is trying to come around on that one still…a little strange for him (he was not raised Catholic…I tried to tell him this isn’t really that strange of a name for Catholics!)

I so much enjoyed reading this whole thing! They just have such a great, fun style, while still being tied into the faith.

To start, some thoughts about the names on their list:

— I think Fisher nicked Fin is so clever!! Too bad Christina’s hubby doesn’t like it! I’m not sure what else there is as a nickname besides Fin and Fish though! Unless … they *could* call him Jack, since Fisher is for St. John Fisher, and Jack’s a nickname for John. That would cause a lot of questions from others (“Why did you name him Fisher if you’re going to call him Jack?”) but maybe that doesn’t bother them. Interestingly, it seems Fulton Sheen was named Peter John but called Fulton (his mom’s maiden name), so they have a precedent to follow!

— Christina’s absolutely right that Austin is a medieval variant of Augustine, just like Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict, so it does have impeccable credentials. I don’t think most people know that though, so I don’t think it comes across as obviously saintly. Which is fine, if they’re okay with that!

— I love Cooper for them, I think it’s my favorite of their ideas! I mean, I think the intention is the most important thing, and wrangling spellings to fit intentions doesn’t always work, so if they intend for Cooper to be for St. Joseph of Cupertino, then it is! I don’t suppose Christina’s hubs would go for the full Cupertino? I like it with Shepherd and Becket! And the Cooper as a nickname can be spelled whatever way. They could also look for another way to get to the nickname Coop — something like Colin Patrick or Conrad Pierce could make sense of it — but then you’d lose your Gray. Ooh! What about Joseph Gray — Joseph for St. Joseph Cupertino — nicknamed Coop? Sort of like my Fisher nicknamed Jack idea above? I’m kind of loving that!

— Fulton’s a great name! I think maybe a good nickname could make them feel better about it? I posted a bunch here (check the comments too); I think Fulton Xavier nicked Fox is my favorite! (They do lose their Gray, but maybe Christina’s husband would be okay with Xavier in the middle?)

— Ever since this reader shared with me that she knows a little Pierce named for Our Lady (her heart would be pierced with a sword), I’ve loved it! Yes, it’s a form of Peter, and as for using two family names — that’s totally up to them! I used two family names for most of my boys, but that kind of thing is important to my family. If Christina’s family would be upset, then they definitely shouldn’t!

— I’m laughing that Xavier is too strange for Christina’s hubs but Shepherd and Becket aren’t! in 2015, Shepherd wasn’t even in the top 1000 names given to boys in America, and Beckett (that spelling) was no. 218 (Becket wasn’t in the top 1000) … while Xavier was no. 90! It’s definitely not a strange name these days, Catholic or not, and I’m sorry to say it’s losing a bit of its Catholic-only cachet as it becomes more broadly popular. That said, I think it still has a lot of saintliness attached to it.

— I like Cade, James, Patrick, and Sawyer as well (and Sawyer is a style match for BOTH Becket and Shepherd, according to the Baby Name Wizard [which lists for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity]!! No wonder they like it!). I will say that using the more unusual Gray — which has more of the feel of Shepherd and Becket to me — as a middle name makes me really love the idea of a more traditional first name for the first name, so I’m interested to see James and Patrick on their list of names they like. James Gray and Patrick Gray are both really handsome, and mirror the style of Shepherd Gerald and Becket George, but flipped. I wonder if using a more unusual nickname for a common first name would help? James could be … Jay? Not that that’s all that unusual … hmm … I can’t think of any others! For Patrick, the surname Patton is derived from Patrick … which also sounds like paten … perhaps Patrick called Paten (for a Catholic feel) or Patton (if they just like the sound)! I’ve also seen Packy and Patch used as nicknames for Patrick — Pack is just like Jack, so I could see them liking that … but is it too similar to Beck? I also knew a Patrick called Trick. My idea above of Joseph Gray nicked Coop also fits in with this idea.

Additional ideas I had that I thought they might like are:

(1) Kolbe
Like Becket, this is a saintly surname (for St. Maximilian Kolbe), and both the last-name-as-first-name style and the natural nickname Kole seem perfect as a brother to Shepherd/Shep and Becket/Beck!

(2) Miles
I think Miles can have a surname-y feel, and I’ve talked a bit on the blog about its faith-y connections: it’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — I love a masculine Marian name!

(3) Gilmore
Gilmore was actually inspired by one of the names the BNW said is a style match for Shepherd: Gibson. It means “son of Gilbert,” and I almost included it in my suggestions, but I was finding myself wishing the “Gil” part from Gilbert was included, and then I remembered Gilmore! Like Miles, it’s a Marian name — and it actually means the same thing! In this case, it’s an anglicization of Gillamhuire, and I love the nickname Gil! My only hesitation is Gilmore Gray — I don’t mind it objectively, but I do think it calls Gilmore Girls to mind pretty strongly.

(4) Hawthorn(e)
My last idea is Hawthorn (or Hawthorne), which can also be considered Marian —
one of Our Lady’s French titles is Notre Dame de l’Aubépine (Our Lady of the Hawthorn)! I think Hawthorn’s a really cool, unusual name for a boy, and I know of one family who used it and decided on Hawk as a nickname, and I also love the idea of Thorn(e).

And those are my ideas! What name(s) would you suggest for Shepherd/Shep and Becket/Beck’s little brother?

Baby name consultation: Remembering Lily in no. 5’s name (boy or girl)

I posted the winner of the giveaway this morning — go check it out if you haven’t already!

Laura and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown)! This little babe joins big sibs:

Thomas Blaise “Blaise”
Augustine “Gus” John
Rose Elizabeth “Rosie”
Lily Marie

So many great names!! 😍

Laura writes,

Finding a name for this little baby has presented more of a challenge. Just over a year ago, my husband and I unexpectedly lost our daughter, Lily, full-term at birth. We chose her name quickly after she arrived, not knowing how much peace it would bring us going forward. Spotting a lily now unites us with our daughter we so grateful yearn for. And having our daughters linked through their flower names is very special to me. Regardless of boy or girl, I’d really appreciate a name that nods to Lily’s memory somehow, if possible.”

It was such a special thing for me to be able to offer some thoughts and ideas for this beautiful family, such a gift.

She continues,

We are unaware of the baby’s sex, but feel especially called to solve the dilemma of keeping or scrapping the flower trend, should the baby be a girl. We also have chosen all saint’s names, other than Lily, who most likely would have been Lillian. We prefer to link each child to a saint.

It seems we also prefer a name that can have a nickname- and are open to the more “non-traditional” nickname options. (Two examples of yours that we LOVE are Miles for Michael and Pierce for Peter.)

We would not consider a “D” first name, and family names to avoid would be: Elisa, Conor, Jameson, Colin, Finn, Cecilia, Mary.

So, the question is, to flower or not to flower?

Laura also said I could share with you all the one photo of they have of the whole family, including Lily:

IMG_4993 2

❤❤❤❤❤

So I wanted tackle their “to flower or not to flower” question first: I love that they have a flower theme, and it sounds like they love it too—if Laura and her hubs were to continue with a flower name for all their girls, their Lily would always be looped in in a way that Laura said is “very special” to her. So my vote is to keep it! Sometimes themes like this can start to feel constraining, even suffocating, if a family continues having a bunch of kids and it becomes increasingly difficult to find names that fit. But I think there are a few ways to work with this theme in such a way that it doesn’t have to feel so. First, there are so many great floral names for girls! And if they opened up their theme to either first or middle name (rather than just first), some of the more unusual options become more doable. Second, if they were to extend their theme to “plants” rather than only “flowers,” or even more broadly to “nature” names, they have a lot more options that can be just as beautiful as flowers. Third, they could choose names that could nickname to flower names, which also loops Lily in an extra way because Lily—though it can be (is) a name on its own—is also traditional nickname for Elizabeth (which also connects Rosie and Lily in a special way!). (I have a suggestion of how to do this below.)

If Laura and her hubs decide the flower (or possibly plant/nature) theme is too restrictive, they could decide to do *Marian names* for their girls instead. Both Rose and Lily are considered Marian names, since they both are symbols of Our Lady, so it wouldn’t be any fuss to change mid-stream as it were and give this baby a Marian name—she’d fit in nicely with both her sisters. I’ve included a non-floral Marian suggestion that I think they might like below as well.

Alright, so first, I had some ideas about how to nod to Lily for both a girl and a boy. I’ll do boy first, since there aren’t as many ways to do so:

(1) Leo
I was trying to think of ways to connect to Lily through name, and one way that parents sometimes honor people is by using the same letter of their first name. After looking up the names Laura and her hubs have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (which you all know is how I start each consultation, as the BNW lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I actually already had Leo on my list for this family. I also like that, in addition to starting with the same first letter as Lily, it’s short and two syllables, just like Lily. Pope St. Leo the Great is a … *ahem* … great (!) patron as well! 😁

(2) El(l)iot(t), Elijah, Eli, Elias
That first jumble of letters is meant to be Eliot! Or Elliot. Or Elliott. Haha! I thought it could connect to Lily through her traditional usage as a nickname for Elizabeth, drawing on the similar beginnings between Elizabeth and El(l)iot(t). Elliot is also a style match for Miles, which Laura said they like, so Elliot seemed a name they would like. However, I’m also sensitive to the fact that their other kids have names that I would classify as Catholicky Catholic, and Elliot doesn’t really fit into that, so I could see them not loving it as a first name, but having it in the middle spot would be a fine place for Lily’s honor name. Or, perhaps a different El- name that doesn’t seem as similar to their names they like but is more obviously faithy, like Elijah and Eli or, maybe the best fit, Elias (which is the Greek form of Elijah, and is actually where Elliot comes from—Elliot is a medieval diminutive of Elias).

(3) Hawthorn
This is also probably a middle name pick, but I was trying to find what month lilies are the flower for, and I could only find lilies of the valley—one of the flowers of May. Interestingly, May has another flower as well, which is the hawthorn. I’ve actually seen Hawthorn used as a name for a boy (the family that I saw use it—on a name discussion board years ago—used Hawk as the nickname, which I thought was so clever!), and I think for this family it would make an amazing middle name with a really cool tie to Lily. An added fun fact is that there are several titles of Mary related to hawthorns—Our Lady of Arantzazu in Spain is a title for one such apparition (the “arantza” part means “hawthorn” in Basque, and a variant of it — Aranza — which began as a name in honor of OL of Arantzazu was one of the fastest rising girl’s names in 2014 because of a character on a telenovela!).

(4) Pierce or Simeon
Laura already mentioned that they like Pierce, but I think it would make a really nice way to nod to Lily, although in a sad way—this reader said she knows a family who named their son Pierce for the prophecy of Simeon—how Mary’s heart would be pierced by a sword. That’s pretty fitting for a mom who’s lost a baby! Simeon could also work, being the name of the man who prophesied the piercing.

Those are my ideas for first or middle names for boys that can nod to Lily, but I also had some more ideas of first names that they might like. I usually start with girls, but since I’m already talking about boy names I’ll go ahead and do them first:

(1) Xavier
According to the BNW, Xavier’s a style match for Blaise, and its Catholicness also makes it a great match for Augustine. It’s a really fun first name too—you can’t beat that X initial!

(2) Thaddeus
At first I was going to suggest Theodore, as it was listed as a style match for August (as a stand-in for Augustine, as the BNW doesn’t have Augustine) and I liked that it was long, like Augustine, which brings some nice balance to sib set as a whole, but I thought it wasn’t quite right. I often think of Theodore and Thaddeus as two sides of the same coin—they’re so similar but different enough that parents tend to pretty clearly prefer one or the other. The obvious patron is St. Jude Thaddeus of course, but I also love Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty—an Irish Dominican priest martyred for the faith.

(3) Isaac
I really really like Isaac for Laura and her husband! I’ve had it on my own list for ages, and St. Isaac Jogues is the inspiration for me. I know the name is really Old Testament, but to me it’s so saintly—in fact, I overwhelmingly think of St. Isaac before the biblical Isaac. I live near the North American Martyrs’ Shrine, though, which is where he and his companions were killed, and there’s a local church named after him, so it could be a regional thing on my part. I know two little Isaacs — one a brother to Oliver, the other a brother to Owen, so it’s definitely getting use outside of the heavy biblical namers.

(4) Sebastian
As I mentioned with Thaddeus, I was trying to think of longer names that could loop the long Augustine back in with his shortly named sibs Thomas/Blaise, Rosie, and Lily (the nickname Gus is perfect with the others!), and Sebastian came immediately to mind. I think it has that same Catholic cachet as their other names, and some great nicknames too: Seb(by), Bash (like Grace Patton’s Sebastian/Bash), Baz.

(5) Campion
My last idea for them for a boy is Campion, like St. Edmund Campion, but what made me first think of it was when I was trying to think of ways to nod to Lily, I was hung up on finding some flower names that could work for boys (for some reason I’d conflated “nodding to Lily” with “flower names for girls” and was thinking flower names for everyone!)—campion is a pink flowering plant. But then I thought I’d keep it in anyway—St. Edmund’s a great saint, and Cam’s a great nickname, and as I noted in the consultation I did for Jenna at Wilber Huset, Campion means “champion,” and is also of course the last name of St. Edmund Campion. Ancestry.com even says it originated as a “status name for a professional champion,” which is great for a boy—he wouldn’t even need to know about the pink flowers!

(6) Benedict
Nope, I lied—I’m adding one more in. Benedict has the same feel to me as Blaise and Augustine, and Ben is one of the friendliest nicknames, very in keeping with the feel of Gus. It’s also for Pope Emeritus Benedict of course, who I love, and since it means “blessed” they could also think of it as an apt name for being blessed with another baby after losing their Lily.

Now on to the girl names! I came up with loads of flower/plant names that I thought could work with their theme of wanting their girls to have those kinds of names (if they decide to stick with it). I think they’ll see there are a lot of options!

(1) Jacinta
Jacinta is one of my FAVORITE names—I took it as my Confirmation name, and if I’d had a bunch of girls instead of a bunch of boys, Jacinta would have been in there somewhere! Jacinta is the Spanish and Portuguese form of Hyacinth, which is of course a flower, so it sticks with their theme, and also—how perfect to include Jacinta in a name for a girl born right after St. Jacinta’s canonization! Also, Jacinta was such a little girl when she died, and she died alone—Our Lady told her she would, and I saw the most beautiful artistic depiction of her Mary carrying Jacinta to heaven—I’ve found that image so comforting when I think of the baby I miscarried, and I wonder if it might be really meaningful to Laura and her hubs in memory of Lily. I also sort of think of Jacinta as the patron of those who suffer in secret, and the devastation of losing a baby isn’t always as obvious to the outside world. And since they love creative nicknames, Jacinta might be extra perfect for them! I did a spotlight of the name here, along with nickname ideas.  If Laura and her hubs like this idea but not Jacinta exactly, they could also just do Hyacinth, like the Pioneer Woman’s BFF, whom she often refers to as “Hy” on the show.

(2) Violet
Violet was actually a style match for August (standing in for Augustine), Rose, Lily, and Lillian. It’s also considered a Marian name, and would be a perfect sister for Rose and Lily! The only problem with a name like Violet is that it’s so *obviously* floral that it really might make them feel wedded to a style that’s hard to keep up with.

(3) Iris
Iris is also explicitly floral, but it also means “rainbow,” which is so suitable for a rainbow baby and by its very meaning points to the baby who came before. It’s not obviously faithy though, so if they like it maybe they’d prefer it in the middle?

(4) Juniper
If Laura and her hubs wanted to branch out of flowers into plants generally, Juniper’s a great one to consider! St. Junipero Serra’s canonization last year has put this one on the radar of a lot of Catholic families, and Junie is the CUTEST nickname! There’s also a lovely pious tradition that the juniper tree hid the Holy Family from Herod’s men during their flight into Egypt.

(5) Azelie
This name is super saintly (to people like us anyway), like Blaise, Augustine, Rose, and Lily, and also floral without being in your face! A lot of people take Azelie to be a French form of azalea (it is, of course, part of the given name of our St. Zelie—she was born Marie-Azélie). In fact, Lindsay from the blog My Child I Love You has a Rose, Lillie, and Zellie (that’s how they spell them), and she said she loved that the three of them are like a bouquet of flowers.

(6) Margaret or Marguerite nicked Daisy
This is the name I mentioned above that would fit into my idea of having the flower connection come from a nickname. Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret! The French form of Margaret, Marguerite, is actually the name of the daisy flower in French! Since Laura and her hubs like creative nicknames, this idea might be right up their alley. There are some great Sts. Margaret too, and it’s obviously saintly like the rest of their crew.

(7) Susanna
I’m not sure if this is overkill or perfect, but I couldn’t not suggest it! According to Behind the Name, Susanna comes from the Hebrew shoshana, which means lily AND it also means rose in Modern Hebrew! So Susanna can tie the other two girls together in one name! Again, I’m not sure if that’s brilliant or just way too much, especially when they consider what to do if they have a fourth girl? As far as saintliness, not only is there a St. Susanna, but the church in Rome for American Catholics is St. Susanna’s, I love that.

Okay! Those are all my flowery ideas for them for a girl, but I had a couple other names that I thought I’d suggest in case they want to put the flower name in the middle and do a non-flower name for the first name:

(1) Clare or Chiara
I probably wouldn’t have included any other ideas than flower ideas except for the fact that Claire and Clara and the next name (Hope) were style matches for them in my research. Clara is a style match for August (standing in for Augustine) and Lilllian, and Claire for Lily, but I thought the variant Clare—often said to have the saintliest feel of the Clare names—was closest to what they’d like. BUT, then I thought maybe the variant Chiara would be an even better fit! It’s got a little more of that heavy feeling that Blaise and Augustine have, and can be for St. Clare of Assisi (whose name was actually Chiara—Clare is an anglicization of it) or Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, who’s such a great patron for modern girls because she herself was a modern girl (she died of cancer as a teenager in 1990).

(2) Hope
Hope was listed as a style match for Pierce, and I immediately thought it was a great idea for Laura and her hubs to consider. It can signify the hope of a new baby after losing their Lily, and can also be for Our Lady of Hope, if they decide to go Marian instead of floral (or even if they do stick with the floral theme! Hope would be a great first or middle coupled with a floral name).

(3) Gemma
I actually didn’t see Gemma listed as a match for any of their names, but it just struck me as one they’d like, and when I looked it up I saw that Violet and Clare are both style matches for it! St. Gemma Galgani is a great patron for a girl and—you guys, get this — when I looked her up I got holy bumps because lilies and roses are two of her symbols! And she’s also known as the Flower of Lucca! Ohmygoodness. Whether they use the name or not, these are such fun details to discover!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Thomas Blaise/Blaise, Augustine/Gus, Rose/Rosie, and Lily that can also nod to Lily?

Baby name consultation: Honoring St. Josemaria with boy no. 2’s name, etc.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post (there’s a giveaway)!

Megan and her husband are expecting their second baby — and second boy! This little man joins big brother:

Henry Allan

Such a solid, handsome name!

Megan writes,

Just as a little background on how we named Henry — There were a few things that ‘confirmed’ that Henry Allan is what we felt God wanted his name to be.  Craig and I were both strongly formed in our faith from Newman Centers so he is partly named after Blessed John Henry Newman.  We also heard a story about St. Henry Heath and his martyrdom.  We felt he was a fitting saint for our time in our culture.  We also learned that Henry is a family name in both mine and Craig’s ancestry.  Allan is both Craig’s middle name and his Dad’s middle name.  It is also my Dad’s first name, although he spells it Alan.  We wanted to honor both our Dads in that way, as well as to honor Craig.

Here is a list of names we are considering for our second child:
Benedict
Joseph
Stephen
Peter
William
George
Gabriel
Conrad
Francis
Fulton
Simon

Here is a list of names that we like but not quite right:
Philip

Here is a list of names we can’t or won’t use:
Michael — like but won’t use because friends’ son’s name
James — like but won’t use because nephew’s name
Maximillian — like but won’t use because friends’ son’s name
Jack — like but won’t use because nephew’s name

Here are some Saints we love:
Mary
St. Josemaria Escriva — one of our favorites, but we are not sure how to work with this name
St. Joseph
St. John Paul II

Great list of names, and great saints to honor! When I first read Megan’s email, my mind immediately started clicking over St. Josemaria and how to work with that, so I’ll start with that. Josemaria is a combination of Jose and Maria, which of course are Joseph and Mary in Spanish—and they have Joseph and Mary on the list of saints they love! So my first—and heartiest—suggestion would be for Megan and her hubs to name their little guy Joseph (they have Joseph in the list of names they like anyway!), which covers St. Joseph and could cover St. Josemaria as well, but especially if they make the middle name something to do with Mary. Possibilities include:

  • Joseph Mario or Joseph Mariano—neither Mario nor Mariano are etymologically related to Mary, but they’ve both been used for a long time as a male form of Mary.
  • Joseph Miles—most of you have likely seen the many many many (!) times I’ve tried to push Miles on expectant parents, but I love so much that it’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means, literally, “servant of the Virgin Mary.”
  • Joseph Mercer—one of my name books (Oxford Dictionary of First Names by Hanks, Hardcastle, and Hodges) says that Mercer (a last name derived from the Old French for “trader”—mercier) “may sometimes also have been chosen as a kind of male equivalent of mercy,” which would be really cool because it could be a nod to Our Lady of Mercy—in keeping with trying to come up with a combo that mirrors Josemaria—and it can also be a nod to the Divine Mercy pope, JP2, which would work in all their favorite saints!
  • Joseph Marion—they could totally channel John Wayne—who was born Marion Robert Morrison—by using Marion as a middle name!
  • Joseph Maria—this would be the most explicit way to honor St. Josemaria in English. Mary/Marie/Maria as a middle name for boys used to be a traditional practice, especially in Europe, but I’ve seen hardcore Catholic parents do so recently too. I’ve love for that tradition to come back!
  • Joseph Marriot(t) or Joseph Murray—both Marriot(t) and Murray have ties to Our Lady: Marriot(t) is an English surname derived from an old diminutive of Mary (Mary-ot), and Murray comes from the Irish Mac Giolla Mhuire (son of the servant of Mary), which is anglicized as Kilmurray, Kilmary, Kilmurry, and MacElmurry. Murray is the “Mary” part and has become a surname in its own right.

Those are my ideas for how Megan and her hubby can incorporate their favorite saints into their son’s name, and Joseph was actually listed as a style match for Henry in the Baby Name Wizard book (which, as you all know, I almost always use in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), so I think it’s a really great option for them.

So they have a really great list and great ideas, and I think the Joseph M. option is amazing and perfect, but of course I can always come up with more! 😀 Based on my research in the BNW using the names on their list and Henry’s name, these are my other ideas:

(1) Edmund/Edmond or Edward
Edward’s actually a style match for Henry, Joseph, William, and George; Edmund for Benedict; and Edmond for Conrad—all great, saintly names! St. Edmund Campion’s awesome, as is St. Edward the Confessor. They all remind me a bit of Benedict, because I’ve seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, and Ned is also a traditional nickname for the Ed- names. I know a little Eddie too, which is really cute, and Ted is also a traditional nickname for Edward.

(2) Theodore
Speaking of Ted (and Ned and Ed), Theodore—which can be nicked Ted—was another good match for their style. It has that sort of Brit feel that I get from Henry, and Ted(dy)’s super cute; Theo’s another great option. Theodore also has the awesome meaning “gift of God.”

(3) Thomas
Thomas was a style match for Joseph, Stephen, Peter, William, Michael, and James! While Tommy’s a cute nickname, most of the little Thomases I know go by the full Thomas. Lots of good patrons to choose from too! St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Thomas More are two favorites of my family.

(4) Charles
Charles is another traditional, gentlemanly name like the ones on their list, with an added bit of sparkle: It’s the English version of John Paul II’s birth name (Karol). I’ve known of many little ones named Charles in honor of JP2, so this could be a way Megan and her hubs can nod to him without using John Paul itself (since John Paul wasn’t on their list, I assume they don’t care for it). As a slight tangent, I find Benedict on their list to be somewhat difficult to pair a middle name with, because there are so many initials that are potentially problematic, but BC is a fine pairing, so I really love the combo Benedict Charles. Two awesome popes in one!

(5) Oliver
My last idea for Megan and her hubs is Oliver, a match for Henry, Simon, and Peter. I love Oliver! St. Oliver Plunkett is a great patron, and it can also be a nod to Our Lady of Olives (I love Marian names for boys!). Henry and Oliver are a darling set of brothers!

And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Henry’s little brother?


Interested in having your own baby name consultation? Check out my Baby name consultations tab for all the details!

Baby name consultation: New baby in the Huset!

(I’m cracking myself up over the title. 😂)

Yes! Today’s consultation is for Jenna and her hubby Daniel at the blog Wilber Huset! I was SO excited when Jenna asked me for a consultation because they have the BEST taste in names, so interesting and unexpected! In fact, their kiddos’ names are what caught my attention in the beginning! (And then, I always love “meeting” converts and hearing their stories, and my husband’s mom was 100% Norwegian but he doesn’t know much about his Scandi heritage, so I like that Jenna’s into that, and she’s just really fun to read [how we met stories are the best!] and posts gorgeous photos of her gorgeous kids on her blog and Instagram, so — lots of reasons to read/follow!)

Their older kiddos are:

Oliver Henry (Ollie)
Atlas James
Primrose Lucia (Prim; Lucia pronounced the Italian way)

Amazing, right?! (The links go to their naming stories, which I have read many times and never stop loving.)

They’re expecting their fourth baby, a boy! Jenna writes,

We are so so so excited. Only problem is, we had a girl name decided already and can’t seem to land on a boy name but that means that I finally get to have your help, ha!

I think overall I’m hoping to find a name that will balance out how much of an outlier Atlas is in my sibset. I love his name so so so much, but I feel like anything similar to the commonness of Oliver will make it stick out even more so.

We tend to like Scandinavian-ish names for boys, but my husband is on a Spanish name kick that I’m struggling to get behind. I find it hard to name an almost inevitably fair baby boy Mateo, haha, but am open to suggestions!

Here is a list of names we can’t use for one reason or another:

Bradley
Brian
Casimir
Cedric
Christopher
Connor
Dustin
Errol
Eric
Ferris
Francis
Issac
Jayden
Jacob
John
Joseph
Kurt
Kyle
Larry
Logan
Michael
Peter
Robert
Richard
Phillip
Russel
Ryan
Samuel
Stephen
Scott
Toulouse
Wesley
William

Some Saints that are important in our family are:

Saint Anne
Saint James (both)
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Fatima (LOVE JACINTA! Plus Palm Springs is one of our favorite places and it’s at the bottom of the San Jacinto Mountains)
Saint Junipero Serra (our parish is one of the missions he founded)

According to Jenna’s name posts, these are the kinds of names she and her hubs have considered:

Girl
Apoline
Lilja

Boy
Erlend
Jasper

Alrighty, so from Jenna’s email, I really latched onto this: “I think overall I’m hoping to find a name that will balance out how much of an outlier Atlas is in my sibset.” I, too, would gravitate toward doing so — I don’t at all mind having a bunch of different styles at play in a family, but I love finding names that “bridge” the styles in subsequent children, to kind of make sense of it all. Not that it’s necessary at all, of course! I also love when parents’ love the names they’ve chosen for their children, whether they “go” together or not.

All that said, I thought maybe a little explanation of what I see when I look at the older Wilber kids’ names might help. I see a lot of nature and landscape: Oliver makes me think of olives, especially as a brother to Primrose, which is so lovely and flowery. Atlas makes me think of the earth, both because of the depictions of the Titan, and because of maps (and that was before I remembered that Jenna had majored in geography!). Apoline makes me think of apples every time I say it, Lilja certainly fits in with flowery Primrose, and Jasper is a kind of rock. Erlend seems a little bit of an outlier here, and I’d actually never heard of it until I read in Jenna’s Oliver post that he was in Kristin Lavransdatter – doh! I’ve started it at least twice and just cannot get through it! (If you know a better translation than the one I linked to, please let me know!) That said, I get a little bit of an old-man vibe from it, which may be how others perceive it as well if they’re not familiar with the literary reference. Not that that’s a bad thing!

I want to point out also that Oliver and Atlas share a theme of “strength,” with Jenna loving Oliver’s “leader of the elves” and “home ruler” meanings, and Atlas the Titan being strong enough to hold up the sky. Also, Jasper being a kind of rock, fits in with that, and even Apoline connects with that, as it’s related to Apollo, whose name might be derived from the actual word for “strength.” So many connections!

So I basically looked for names that I thought could fit with a nature and/or strength meaning or feel for this little guy. You all know I rely heavily on the Baby Name Wizard, with its lists of names that are similar to each other in terms of style/feel/popularity, but I knew it wasn’t going to be too helpful for for Jenna and Daniel, and I was right. I did take a look, but I relied more on my gut (a little risky!) as well as the list of Norwegian names at Behind the Name; I also used the Name Matchmaker and Nymbler as well; and I checked to see about Harry Potter connections with each name (from Jenna’s Oliver post: “In the back of my mind I thought it would be a cute homage to HP if all my kids names somehow came for the HP series…. how old was I!? ANYWAY. I already loved loved loved the name Oliver so it worked with that trend (Oliver Wood! yeow!) and I loved the name Apoline (Fleur Delacour’s mother, duh!)” haha!). I focused pretty heavily on trying to come up with ideas that had a nature feeling, or a “strong” feeling, which may be too narrow a focus, but it helped prevent me from winging all over the place. I hope it’s not overkill! These are my ideas:

(1) Orion
This might be too mythological for them, since Atlas is obviously so, and even though they want to loop Atlas in more I don’t suppose they want to go overboard with his style either, but Orion was my very first idea for Jenna’s baby boy, with the idea of bridging Oliver and Atlas. I like that it’s an O name like Oliver — to me, that links them pretty strongly — and that it’s a mythological name like Atlas. It’s also nature-y because of it being a constellation, and I love that it has a “strong” meaning as well: Orion’s a hunter! Also, while Oliver and Atlas seem very different at first blush (but not so much if you dig a little deeper into meanings), Atlas is not so unusual that it’s unfamiliar, so if their goal is balance (which I take to mean, bridging styles or making sense of how they all fit together, which to me means pulling Atlas closer to Oliver rather than going even farther out with an even more unusual name), I think a name like Orion is a good one, because it’s also not totally unusual or unfamiliar (though certainly on the more uncommon end of the spectrum).

(2) Sirius
Speaking of Orion … Sirius (the star) is referred to as Orion’s dog in Homer’s Iliad — I love that it’s a star name, which fits in with the nature theme, and it’s a Harry Potter name, so I’m thinking this might be a really cool name for this family! Especially since their other kids don’t have *obvious* HP names — I mean, I wouldn’t suggest Sirius to a family who already has a Harry and a Hermione, but as a brother to Oliver, Atlas, and Primrose? I’m kind of loving Sirius!

(3) Rio
I’m really interested to see what they think of Rio. It means “river,” which fits in really well with a nature theme, and it totally ties in to the map/geography feel of Atlas! It’s also Spanish, which is a nod to Daniel’s recent interest in Spanish names, and it also makes me think some faith-y things, specifically the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and Pope Francis’ visit to Rio as well (especially since watching Pope Francis get elected seems like it was a catalyst for their conversion). And Rio’s just a fun name! One caveat is that I’ve seen it used for girls — there’s the Duran Duran song about a woman named Rio, and 38 girls were named Rio in the U.S. in 2015, but 103 boys were named Rio and the -o ending almost always is masculine.

(4) Ransom
I love love love the name Ransom — I love that it’s got a little bit of a pirate feel, which is so fun for a little boy, but it’s got a Marian connection too, in the title Our Lady of Ransom! That title is tied to Our Lady of Mercy —
in fact, the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, also known as the Order of Mercy, or the Mercedarians, was originally called the Order of Our Lady of Ransom. Reader skimac told more about them here — they’re pretty amazing, and the title is an awesome inspiration for a boy’s name! It doesn’t have a nature meaning, but Ransom has that characteristic of “strength” to me that I see in Oliver’s and Atlas’ names.

(5) Romero (or Oscar?)
Speaking of interesting, masculine Marian names, I recently discovered that Romero is the Spanish word for the rosemary plant! So of course that makes it Marian to me, and Spanish, so Jenna’s hubs might like it. Also, I love Bl. Oscar Romero, which then made me think of Oscar, and I thought that might be more their speed anyway (and a nice compromise for the two of them because Oscar’s got good Scandinavian use *and* good Spanish use!). Like with Orion, I could see Oscar being a good bridge name between Oliver and Atlas — it’s kind of in the middle of the two unusual-wise I think.

(6) Rune
When I was going through the list of Norwegian names at behindthename, I came across Rune and immediately loved it for them — especially because it made me think of the class Ancient Runes in Harry Potter! I know in Norwegian it’s technically said like ROO-na, but I love the sound of ROON and I think that’s how people would probably say it anyway, so I’m going to say go with ROON. I love its meaning “secret lore,” which is so mysterious and otherworldly — I think for that reason it really fits in well with the mythological association of Atlas.

(7) Sten
I also found Sten when going through that Norwegian list, and not only do I think it has a cool sound, but its meaning is “stone,” which is great for a nature-y and “strong” theme!

(8) Viggo
The more I think about it, the more surprised I am that they don’t have Viggo on their list! It’s Scandinavian and is related to the meaning “war,” which isn’t great from a violence and killing perspective but does fit in with a theme of “strength” I think (and they could totally intend for it to refer to “spiritual warfare” or similar). Natalie Hanson (married to MMMBop Taylor Hanson) is an incredible namer, and a name nut like us, as well as a devout Christian, and she named one of their boys Viggo, which is a plus in my book.

(9) Campion
Speaking again of strength, Campion means “champion,” and is also of course the last name of St. Edmund Campion. Ancestry.com even says it originated as a “status name for a professional champion,” which seems right up Atlas’ alley!

(10) Everest
I love that Everest immediately calls to mind Mt. Everest, which is such a great thing for the Wilbers, since it’s nature-y, geologic (geological?), and strong. It’s also familiar without being familiar, if that makes sense — a great bridge between Oliver and Atlas I think.

(11) Fox
At first I had Fennec here instead — a type of fox — I thought an animal name might be a fun way to have a nature-y name in a new category, and Fennec feels really name-y to me … and then I remembered why it feels namey, which is the reason I crossed it off the list: Finnick from Hunger Games (on its own, I love it, but as a brother to Prim, probably too much!). But then I thought, maybe just Fox? I know a guy named Fox (it’s not his given name — I don’t actually know what his given name is) and I love it — it’s like an outdoorsy Felix, and strikes me as both kind of hippie and also tough. Also, and this is a bit of a stretch, I say Fox almost the same way I say Fawkes, and while I don’t think Fawkes is workable for the same reason I wouldn’t recommend Faulkner or similar-sounding F- names, Fox is fine, and if it makes them think of Fawkes they could sort of count it as an HP name? Maybe?

(12) Caspian
Ooh I love this idea for them. The Caspian Sea provides all the nature-ness they could want, and Prince Caspian adds strength, chivalry, royalty, and Narnia!

So those are all my first-name ideas for Jenna and Daniel (or they could be middle name contenders of course, if they prefer)! Unfortunately I couldn’t come up with any HP connections for any names but Sirius and Rune and possibly Fox, but that’s what middle names are for, right?

I also wanted to address their special saints:

— St. Anne: I’ve known a couple of parents wanting to honor St. Anne in their sons’ names, and the ideas they and I have had have revolved mostly around the “Ann” sound — Anselm, Anthony, Anton, Anson, Ansel. If their intention is to honor her, I think all of these ideas are great! And in fact, Anne, that spelling (but pronounced like Anna), has use in the Frisian language as a male name — a short form of names beginning with Arn- (e.g., Arnold, Arnulf, and the Norwegian Arnt). Anne or Arnt could be interesting possibilities? Another is to use St Anne’s husband’s name, which could be really great for them anyway, even as a first name, since it’s got good use in Scandinavian countries: Joachim or Joakim. In English it’s said JO-ah-kim, so Joe is a natural nickname (though I’d use Jake, and I’ve tried to convince my husband of Joachim for ages). It’s probably even better as a middle name, where they don’t have to worry about pronunciation as much.

— St. James: I know they’ve already used James, but this might be the perfect example of when it’s okay to use a variant form of a name they’ve already used. James is the Latin form of Jacob, so Jacob could be great, OR, since Jenna’s hubby is loving Spanish names and they love OL of Guadalupe, perhaps Diego? I’ve seen some academic disagreement over whether it’s actually a variant of James (via Santiago=St. James) or not, but I do believe it’s usually translated that way, and the impeccably researched Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources has Diego listed as “a contraction of Santiago.” I can see Jenna’s point about naming a blondie with a Spanish name, but I love putting names like that in the middle. Diego would be a super cool middle name!

— OL of Fatima and Jacinta: I’m so with them on this! I went on a pilgrimage to Fatima the summer I turned 13, and it was *the* turning point for me faith-wise; I also chose Jacinta as my Confirmation name because of my connection with Fatima. I love her and I’m so excited for her canonization IN TWO DAYS! I could see Jacinta being an awesome name for a future daughter or, more immediately, they could do the Spanish Jacinto for a boy, which would be kind of great because the baby’s being born in the year Jacinta is canonized. Either way, the name totally works with a nature theme because they’re the Spanish masculine and feminine versions of Hyacinth. You might be familiar with the Pioneer Woman’s best friend Hyacinth (a woman), whom she refers to on the show often as Hy; there are also a bunch of holy Hyacinths who are all male — not sure which one San Jacinto refers to, but it’s a pretty cool connection!

— St. Junipero Serra: As with Diego and Jacinto, I think a meaningful Spanish name would be smashing in the middle name spot, and I could see Junipero working perfectly. Or just Juniper, which has traditional use for boys. Also: nature name!

And those are all my thoughts for the new little Wilber man! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Oliver, Atlas, and Primrose?

Baby name consultation: Traditional, timeless, saintly name needed for boy no. 5

I have this group of girlfriends from college that make up most of my inner circle — girls I lived with, laughed with, cried with, had as bridesmaids in my wedding, and still to this day count as sisters. I’m so excited that today’s consultation is for one of them! Rosey and her husband Brian are expecting their sixth born baby — and fifth boy! (This makes seventeen boys [and only three girls!] among us! Boy no. 16’s birth announcement is here.)

This little guy joins big sibs:

Kenneth Brian
Paul Vincent
Clare Patricia Rose
James Emanuel
Henry Joseph

An amazingly named bunch of kids, don’t you think? 😍

Brian got the ball rolling by writing,

Kate! Help! This baby is never going to be named!

You know our existing names as a starting point. First name should be a fairly traditional, timeless catholic saint name, the middle name can be a little more ‘catholicy catholic’ but not all the way out there (Augustine, Blaise, Benedict OK; but Polycarp or Athanasius would be too much)

We don’t seek to nickname, unless there’s an obvious, traditionally accepted nickname for a particular name, we don’t want to come up with anything new or cutting edge. And we don’t want any nickname to be dependent on the middle name. We do use diminutives at home currently: Kenny, Paulie, Jamie, but we like that each son can take their full first name out into the world ‘as is’ with no problem.”

(This part made me laugh, regarding nicknames: “we don’t want to come up with anything new or cutting edge. And we don’t want any nickname to be dependent on the middle name.” They know me too well! 😂)

Brian continues:

I have some combos I really like, but Rosey is ‘meh’ with (at the moment) 🙂:

Charles Augustine
Mark Augustine
Andrew (w Benedict, Charles or Thomas as middle)

Other first names I think could work, but also not grabbing Rosey:

Thomas
Jude
Anthony
John
George
Steven
Francis

Names excluded for various reasons:

Luke [doesn’t work with last name]
Peter
Michael (though could possibly be used as a middle name)
David

And because it’s hilarious and I’m still laughing about it, there’s this too:

Also, FTR, I gave Rosey a spreadsheet of 73 ‘acceptable to me’ FN/MN combos and asked her to check her top 10-20, but she just put it in the junk drawer and said to skip straight to you. She never likes to take the engineering approach. *sigh*

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

As for Rosey, she said,

I really don’t care for Charles. But I guess names that I don’t totally hate are (in no specific order) blaise, George, mark, jude, Matthew and of course I love the names of the kids we have. I am OK with Augustine as a middle name and I guess Charles would be fine for a middle name too. I probably would go for almost any middle name.”

This is such a fun challenge! I’ve loved watching Rosey and Brian name each of their children, and being able to offer some thoughts/ideas/suggestions for one of them is such a privilege!

So of course there are lots of great ideas here. I’m a big fan of mixing safe with adventurous, like with James Emanuel, Charles Augustine, and Mark Augustine … 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! 😁) But of course none of that is necessary either — safe + safe, and adventurous + adventurous are fine and fabulous!

I admit I tried to think a *tiny* bit outside the box since Henry’s name was a surprise to them last time — it wasn’t even on the list until the end. One of my ideas in particular doesn’t fit their “traditional and timeless” criteria, but I had to throw in at least one like that, just in case!

You all know that I rely pretty heavily on the Baby Name Wizard when doing consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. It’s uncannily accurate! But of course it doesn’t always nail a couple’s style, and the lists of similar names it offers aren’t comprehensive, and it doesn’t always do so great with heavy Catholicky Catholic names. (Which is where I come in. 😊)

Okay, without further ado! Based on all my research as well as names I’d come up with for Rosey and Brian before I even cracked the BNW book open, here are my ideas for their newest little guy:

(1) Timothy
I don’t know if it was intentional (and certainly not with Kenny, since his is a straight honor name), but their older kids’ first names all have a distinctly (to me) Irish/Scottish/Brit feel to them (I know they have other associations as well, I just mean as a group), which is one of the reasons I love Timothy for them. Like their other kids, it doesn’t hit you over the head with Celtic-y feeling, but it’s a popular name in Ireland and with Irish and Irish-American families, so it’s taken on a green sheen. It’s also biblical, saintly, traditional, and timeless. I really love this one for them. And since it’s longer, a shorter middle would make a nice rhythm: Timothy Jude, Timothy Blaise, and Timothy George are all really nice imo.

(2) Fulton
This is the idea I mentioned earlier as being the one outside-the-box name I allowed myself to include. I don’t even know what made me think of it for Rosey and Brian initially, but it came to me the other day and I rolled it around a few times with their last name … I love it! And Ven. Fulton Sheen, who was actually baptized Peter John but called Fulton, which was his mom’s maide name, is such a great patron! I’m loving the idea of Fulton Peter or Fulton John, especially if they want to highlight the connection to him, or Fulton Anthony or even Fulton Francis (I don’t mind the alliteration, though I know some people don’t care for it.

(3) Robert
Robert’s been on my radar for a while now (I think it was Downton Abbey that did it!) — I’ve been loving how handsome and traditional it is, and the nicknames Bobby and Robby have been striking me as really adorable. And St. Robert Bellarmine!

(4) Martin
Martin’s totally traditional and timeless, but you rare hear Martin anymore! It really fits in nicely with Kenny’s name, I think, which I would describe similarly.

(5) Philip
I’m actually not sure how Rosey and Brian feel about repeating initials, but Philip has long been one of my favorite favorites. I love the traditional nickname Pip for it, but I think it’s one of those nicknames that doesn’t grow really well with a boy, so their mindset — nickname at home/with the family, but not outside — is perfect for Philip/Pip.

(6) Gregory
This is another favorite of mine — I always like to quote what the BNW says about it: “Popes, saints, and Gregory Peck! Can a name get any more distinguished?” I love that! Pope St. Gregory the Great is an amazing patron, and the full Gregory is so handsome.

(7) Theodore
I’ll end with seven ideas, and this last one is fun because it reminds me a lot of Henry — Theodore’s an older name that’s popping up more and more, including among parents who also like Henry, and is on a similar curve as Henry in the SSA stats (though Henry’s a bit ahead of it). Theo’s an easy nickname for home, or Ted/Teddy, and the full Theodore is smart and serious.

Though those seven are my main suggestions, I sometimes find it helpful to list the names that didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason, just in case. David was my no. 1 for them for a long time, until they said it’s on the no list! I almost included Daniel (Danny Boy!), Tobias (maybe too out there?), and Nicholas (I’m still thinking it might be a good idea), and Andrew was another on my mind for them before I even saw that it was a contender.

And those are all my ideas for Rosey and Brian’s littlest guy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kenny, Paul, Clare, James, and Henry?

ETA: I was given permission to include their girl name ideas after I’d already posted, woo! If this baby had been a girl, they planned to use Gemma Katharine, and other girl name combos they like include MaryAlice Veronica, Mary Alice, Veronica Mary, and Veronica Rose.

Baby name consultation: Formal name for Lola or Lulu?

Consultation post number 3 for this week! Hooray!! 😁😍🎉

I posted a consultation for Emily and her husband nearly two years ago, and then a birth announcement when their little guy was born, and now they’re naming another sweet little one! Their new little girl joins big sibs:

Gwenevere Marie (Gwen)
Avalene Ruth (Avie)
Gideon Elias
Woodrow Ignatius

SUCH a fun and fabulous bunch of names!

Emily writes,

We are in the process of adopting from China! This will be our fifth child, and third girl. She will be three in May, and we hope to get her home in the fall.

Obviously she has a name already. Her name is Le Le, pronounced “luh-luh” in Chinese and meaning “Joy and gladness”. While we want to be respectful of her heritage, we also want to integrate her into our family completely. She actually goes by “Lola” in her foster home. We had been calling her “lay lay” before we found out we were mispronouncing it. We have been thinking of calling her “Lulu”, as it’s very similar to what she is called, and what her name is.

We have now thoroughly confused our children on what her name is! We’re sort of stuck. We want to give her a name from us, as is tradition when welcoming a new child, but not totally overwhelm her with change. As far as we know, she understands when spoken to, but is, as of now, nonverbal (she has Down syndrome).

Lulu seems to be more nickname-y, and we hoped we could give her a more formal name.

My husband is totally against calling her Joy, which I first suggested.

I don’t blog anymore but we have a youcaring page, which I try and update and a Facebook page dedicated to the adoption.”

Can you believe how loving and generous this family is? What a blessed little girl Le Le is! I’m so very happy to think of name ideas for her. And I’m really intrigued by this naming dilemma! I immediately latched on to both Lola and Lulu, as they’re both kind of on-trend for girls right now. And I know a little girl with the given name Lulu! Just Lulu! So I think these names will fit in really well with the name landscape Emily’s kids are part of.

I also love the meaning of Le Le’s name, and I actually love Joy as a possibility (don’t tell Dad! 😉) … it makes me think of St. Catherine of Siena, who was so joyful as a child that she was called Euphrosyne, which is Greek for joy! At first I thought it could help Emily and her hubs with their dilemma, as I assumed the first syllable was said like “you,” and I did find one place that said it you-FRAH-zee-nee, which kind of mirrors the sounds of Lulu, but then I listened to another pronunciation of it that’s more authentically Greek and it sounds like it’s more like ef-raw-SEE-nee. So I don’t know if any of this is helpful at all!

Back to Lola/Lulu, some formal names that I think could get to Lola, which I also think can work for Lulu, are:

— Violet Louisa (or vice versa)
— Caroline Lucia (or vice versa)
— Lourdes (do note that Madonna’s daughter is Lourdes nicked Lola, a surprisingly beautiful choice compared to other choices she’s made)
— a Mary- double, like Mary Aloysius, Mary Olivia, Mary Ophelia, Maria Lauren, Marie Lorelei; I also like the idea of hyphenating: Marie-Olivia or Marie-Olive, Maria-Ophelia, Maria- or Marie-Lauren, Marie-Lorelei — really, Mary + anything with O and L sounds
— Lulu is especially perfect for Louisa or Lucia/Lucy
— Juliet (with its long U and heavy L)
— Elodie (this could work for Lola too)
— really probably most L names. In fact, I don’t even think Violet or Caroline need an L middle name to make Lola/Lulu work as a nickname for them.

Additionally, Lola is actually a traditional nickname for Dolores (meaning “sorrows,” from the Marian title Our Lady of Sorrows), and the fashion designer Lulu Guinness was born Lucinda Jane.

Oooooh wait a minute!! I just remembered some L names that mean joy!! There’s Laetitia, which comes from the Marian title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (Cause of Our Joy), and there’s the related title Our Lady of Liesse, where Liesse is French for joy! I particularly like Liesse, such a pretty name.

And those are my ideas for this beautiful family and their beautiful little girl! What name(s) would you suggest that connect to Lola, Lulu, and/or “joy”/”gladness” and that fit in well with her big sisters and brothers?

(Please also consider donating to the adoption fund through their page at youcaring, if you’re able, and follow their updates on Facebook.)

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 2 (difficult last name and eclectic name taste)

It’s springtime, which apparently means alllll the babiessss!!! 💐💃💐💃💐💃 Buckle up, cause we’re in for a couple of weeks of a lot of consultation posts! Woo!! I have two or three scheduled to post every week until the end of May, and they’re each just as fun and fabulous as the next.

Today’s is for Nury and her husband — they’re expecting their second baby, and second boy! He joins big brother:

Alec Michael

Which I love. So handsome.

Nury writes,

Choosing the name of our first child was difficult, to say the least. Our last name … is long and difficult. All of the boys names in my husband’s family tend to be short and not too exotic (Michael, George, Steven, David, Daniel, Richard). My husband’s name is Sean and we do not want to use that. We also definitely do not want to use Michael. There are a large number of Michaels in both of our families, including Sean’s father and brother. We are open to relatively uncommon names, but they should be easy to say — we want him to have a name that people can recognize and say easily since [our last name] causes so much confusion!

We chose Alec as the first name for our son after months and months of discussion and debate. At the very end, we were nearly set on Thomas Michael (Thomas is the name of a dear friend and mentor to Sean and also two of my favorite saints). We settled on Alec after we met him and decided it would stand as a tribute to my grandfather (whose middle name was Alejandro). Michael was chosen as the middle name in honor of Sean’s father who passed in 2011.

The only name we have seriously considered for this new baby is Thomas again. But I also like the following names: Victor, Becket, George, Patrick, James, and Eric. We are also considering using my father’s name, Marcelo, as a middle name. He passed away last July, a month before we conceived this baby. However, that’s not a requirement.”

I was really impressed both with Alec’s name and with the names on Nury’s list of those they’re considering—they all fit perfectly into her desire to have a name “that people can recognize and say easily” despite being all different styles! Nice job! I also love the idea of Thomas Marcelo, it sounds like it’s full of meaning for them.

I’m going to guess that one of the reasons they had a hard time coming up with a name for their first son is exactly because their taste in names is all over the place—and I say that in a good way! I love eclectic namers—those who don’t fit into any one obvious style. It does make it hard to nail down name ideas though, since there’s no real “place” to go look for more, you know? Like, if a couple loved last-names-as-first-names, then I would know where to look for more. If they loved Irish names, I would know where to find those. You know? On the list of names Nury and her husband have used (Alec) and are considering (Thomas, Victor, Becket, George, Patrick, and Eric) I can see separating them out into the following categories: Scottish/English/Celtic (Alec, Becket, George, Patrick), traditional saintly (Thomas, Victor, George, Patrick), Spanish (Victor, Eric), last name (Becket), and Scandinavian (Eric). But even though I could see grouping a couple/few of them into categories, there was zero overlap in the suggested names in the Baby Name Wizard when I looked up all their names! (You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used/like/are considering in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity.) This is so unusual, and extra challenging!

I don’t want any of you to think that any of this is bad though! And it seriously increases the fun for me, I love love a good challenge!! 😊 One thing I did notice in terms of a theme or style that, once I noticed, became really obvious to me, is that they really like names that have the K sound in them: Alec, Victor, Becket, Patrick, and Eric. Even Alec’s middle name, Michael. Out of the eight names that they’ve chosen or like, six have the K sound in them! I think that’s more than coincidence, and I used that idea to come up with a few names that I thought might fit into the various categories their names fall into:

(1) Dominic
Dominic has that K sound at the end, and can take nicknames that include it too, like Nick and Nico. It’s saintly, and I think it works well in Spanish as well as across all the European countries, including Ireland, the UK, and the Scandinavian countries.

(2) Nico
Speaking of Nico as a nickname for Dominic, why not Nico as a given name? It’s one of my favorites—short and snappy and masculine, and I like that it has four letters like Alec. I think it’s easy to say in various languages, and St. Nicholas can be patron.

(3) Nic(h)olas
And speaking of Nicholas, I wonder if they would consider it as a first name? I like both the Nicholas and Nicolas spellings, and I think most people think it’s easy to say.

(4) Cole or Colin
Still (unintentionally) continuing with the Nicholas theme, Cole is a traditional nickname for it, and it can also stand on its own as its own name. My husband and I actually considered it for one of our boys! Colin is also a traditional diminutive for Nicholas, though it’s most well known as a name in its own right. It was actually listed as a style match for Alec in the BNW, though I’m not sure it fits Nury’s “easy to say” criteria well enough? Most people I know say COLL-in, but others are more familiar with Colin Powell’s pronunciation: COLE-in.

(5) Kolbe
And jumping off of Cole, Kolbe is also inspired by Becket on their list in that it’s a saintly last name (St. Maximilian Kolbe). I’m just not sure if it’s as easy to say as they’d like? I mean, I don’t know if most people who see it know it’s said KOLE-bee right away?

(6) Mark, Marc, Marco, Marcus
I wondered if they’d be interested in using a variant of Nury’s dad’s name as their son’s first name, similar to how they did with Alejandro –> Alec? According to behindthename.com, Marcelo is a variant of Marcellus, which was originally a diminutive of Marcus. In light of that, any of the Marcus variants seem like they could work to honor Nury’s dad, if she felt like they were close enough to her dad’s name. And changing from Marcelo to Mark/Marc/Marco/Marcus pulls in that K sound that they seem to like. Marc was also listed as a style match for Eric.

(7) Kevin
Kevin was listed as a style match for Eric, but I would also say it’s similar to Patrick because of being an Irish name, which also makes it fit in well with the UK/Celtic feel of Alec, Becket, and George. It’s a saint’s name as well.

(8) Cooper
This is another one, like Kolbe, that was inspired by Becket—it was actually listed as a style match for it in the BNW. One of you readers knows a little Cupertino, for St. Joseph of Cupertino, and he goes by Cooper—I think that’s so clever!

Those are all my suggestions based on the idea that Nury and her husband might prefer names with a K sound in them, but don’t worry, I have some other ideas too! Like:

(8) Andrew or just Drew
Though behindthename says Alec is an English short form of Alexander, babynamewizard and others say it’s the Scottish form of Alex(ander), which is definitely the vibe I get from it (not the only vibe—Alec works well with lots of different kinds of names I think). James on their list is another name that can have a Scottish feel to it, and I’m not really sure why—maybe because of King James?—but I have a friend who married a Scot and they named one of their boys James, which made so much sense to me. Anyway, all that to say, Andrew is another name that has a similar feel. St. Andrew is actually the patron of Scotland, and there’s St. Andrews University there, near the town of St. Andrews. If they didn’t like the full Andrew, I think its nickname Drew can stand on its own, and pairs really nicely with Alec.

(9) Charles, Carl(o)(s), Karl
Charles is a style match for Thomas, George, and James, and it’s one of those names that works in all different languages and cultures. Carlo is a nice option as well, as is Carlos (which was a style match for Victor), and Karl has that Scandinavian feel that I get from Eric. A nice bonus is that all these names can take St. John Paul for patron, since his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish form of Charles. (There are also lots of other Sts. Charles, if they want to go a non-JP2 route.)

(10) Miles or Milo
If you’ve been reading my blog long, you’ll likely know that I love the name Miles and push it on lots of parents! 😁 It’s used in Ireland as an anglicization of the Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”—so Miles is a Marian name! It’s also a style match for Alec, and is similarly nickname-proof. If they don’t love how the S in Miles runs into the S of their last name, but they like the idea of Miles, maybe they’d prefer Milo? It also has use as an anglicization of Maolmhuire (if that’s important to them). If they didn’t care for the double M of Miles Marcelo or Milo Marcelo, I quite like Miles Thomas and Milo Thomas.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Alec’s little brother?