Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum

Have any of you seen or heard about the new PBS Kids show Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum? It premiered this week; it’s “[b]ased on the children’s book series Ordinary People Change the World by New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos … [and] will introduce kids to inspiring historical figures and the character virtues that helped them succeed.” (This was a pretty interesting article about it, which focused heavily on the need for kids to have good heroes today [secular, of course, I didn’t see any Saints in the lineup! 😀 ], and this quote was interesting: “where do you draw the line between someone whose flaws are flaws in a good person, and someone whose flaws are disqualifying for a kids’s how [sic]?” I’m glad that’s something they’re wrestling with! So far they seem to have done a good job — my kids have seen a couple of episodes and like it well enough, and I haven’t seen anything objectionable in it.)

Anyway, what made me sit up and take notice is how they said Xavier’s name: ex-ZAY-vyer! (You might remember that I have strong feelings on the pronunciation of Xavier.) I tried to find more info on the selection of Xavier as the protagonist’s name, and hoped that someone might have written about the pronunciation, but didn’t find anything — if you do, please share!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

The fascinating phenomenon of “battle babies”

Happy Veterans’ Day! Thank you to all those who have served our country, including both my grandfathers, several uncles, a cousin, and friends! ❤️🗽🇺🇸

We’ve talked a lot on here about different ways of honoring people (Jesus and Mary, the saints, and family/other loved ones) and the faith in general (through nods to prayers, words, and objects) in our babies’ names, and there have been some pretty out-there ideas (which you know I love!). I really love what I think of as “possibility thinking” — there are certainly rules that need to be followed, but there are a whole lot of rules that people *think* need to be followed, that don’t, and as a result they box themselves into these really limiting mindsets, and one of my favorite things is helping parents to see that there’s so much more freedom than they realize!

Anyway, I’m totally taken with this article that one of you readers sent me today: ‘I was named after a World War One battle.’ It’s a fascinating article!! I know we have a lot of history buffs here, so maybe some of you already knew about the practice of honoring relatives who fought in various battles by giving babies the names (or variations of the names) of those battles, but this was all new to me.

Jessamy Carlson, a historian and archivist at the National Archives, says the naming of children after battles was a way of honouring the dead and for families to keep a “personal, tangible connection” with a lost husband, father or relative.

She says it also shows the “extent to which war became part of everyday life”.

“You have an experience that is all pervasive. You have women whose husbands are away, dying far from home – and naming their children in this commemorative way is a way of holding them close,” says Ms Carlson.”

It’s such a great (albeit sobering) example of possibility thinking! Real-life examples offered in the article included:

Passchendaele (which was mentioned the most in the article — I had to look it up because I had no idea how to pronounce it! It’s like POSS-en-doll-la)
Somme
Arras
Cambrai
Verdun (“… after the battle in France. Verdun became the single-most used battle names” and was the name of actor Richard Burton’s brother)
Dardanelles
Ypres
Jutland
Vimy Ridge
Zeppelina
Belgium
Frances (after France)
Calais
Arras
Mons
Somme
Delville Wood

Interestingly, the “names tended to be given to girls rather than boys and the battle names were feminised, such as Sommeria, Arrasina, Verdunia, Monsalene and Dardanella.” And I love that as “the war ended, there was another flurry of names such as Peace, Poppy, Armistice and Victory.”

With these names given in honor of relatives who fought and died in these battles, it occurs to me that it wasn’t merely an interesting/unusual/offbeat way of naming a baby after someone, but it was a way of honoring this *particular part* of the person — his courage and ultimate sacrifice. It wasn’t just naming a baby after Grandpa Joe, but naming a baby after the courage and selflessness Grandpa Joe demonstrated in this specific instance. A Catholic example of this way of thinking is how many of us have devotions to specific titles of Mary, and name our babies in honor of those titles, even though they all refer to the same person. Or even how we’re drawn to particular saints, and want to name our babies after them.

I’d love to hear any insights or reactions you have to this article, as well as any other parallels you can draw between battle naming and Catholic naming! Also, do you know anyone who has any of these battle names? I’d love to hear their stories!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: How to narrow it down?

Elisha and her husband are expecting their first baby — a little girl! In my consultation for them, I mostly tried to help them nail down the style they feel is “their children’s names,” as they had some very feminine names on their list, as well as some more unisex, surname-type names. This is what I said to them:

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents, as it’s sort of like the sky’s the limit, name-wise! You don’t have older children with a set name style yet, so you don’t need to worry about whether or not your favorite name will clash with theirs — you can choose with abandon!

At the same time, though … I do encourage all first-time parents to give at least a little thought to how they would see the naming of their future children play out. A perfect example is that you have the ultra-feminine Evangeline on your list, as well as the more unisex Kennedy. Both names are fine and fabulous, but if you consider your possible future children, do you see them having names more in the Evangeline/Genevieve/Lilian vein, or more in the Kennedy/Morgan/Lindsey vein? Either way is fine! And to a certain extent, even if siblings’ names are wildly different and a little jarring to others, who cares?! (Except that people who care about names — like I suspect you do — do tend to care about those kinds of things …)

Elisha and her hubs thought this exercise had merit, and replied:

Thank you so much for all of the research that you put into this consultation! … We had so much fun reading through this and discussing it. After much discussion, we have narrowed our names down to Evangeline, Penelope, Rosabelle, and Genevieve with Grace and Feighth* leading our middle names. It would appear that we do enjoy those ultra-feminine names both individually and if we have more daughters later.

Our biggest reservation seems to be saving a name for later with no guarantee of another girl. For instance, if we chose Evangeline Feighth, we would be taking Feighth away from Genevieve. However, we could enjoy Evangeline Grace and save Feighth for Genevieve, but risk never having another girl. We read about that risk on your site somewhere awhile back …

Do you have any suggestions on how we might narrow them down from that? … Maybe the Sancta Nomina community will give us that last idea that solidifies our choice/grouping.”

(*Feighth is a spelling that has special meaning to Elisha and her hubs.)

You guys always have such great ideas, I know you’ll have some good advice for this couple! These are my thoughts:

— Fairness is something I encourage parents to think about when naming their children. Mostly, what I mean is, I think it’s important to do your best to make sure each child feels that their name is just as special as his/her siblings’ names. Though each name (both firsts and middles) on Elisha and her husband’s list has a great deal of significance to them through various connections to important things in their lives, Elisha told me that Evangeline is the only one that has a family connection. That detail seems to me to be a make or break — if honoring family is important, then Evangeline emerges as the clear winner. If Elisha and her hubs would prefer not to feel like they have to include a family connection in every child’s name, then perhaps Evangeline moves to the bottom of the list. (That said, the family connection with Evangeline isn’t super obvious, so they could still choose Evangeline on other merits and not point out the family connection.)

— The middle name options of Grace and Feighth seem to be part of the first-name decision-making process for Elisha and her hubby. They have a similar enough sound to me (one syllable, long A) that neither jumps out to me as better sound-wise with any of the first-name options, so I would then consider that since Feighth has particular significance to this couple, while Grace is simply a name they like, that Feighth should be the frontrunner middle name. Or, since Evangeline has family significance, for example, then perhaps a less-significant middle like Grace would be better with it, thus saving the more-significant middle name as a match for a less-significant first name. Does that make sense?

— Finally, Elisha referenced my article about the risk of saving a name for later use, knowing that there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to use it later. The two bits of advice I offered in that post based on your great ideas when I posed the question on the blog were: “Name this baby as if he or she were your last (or only)” and “Consider which name you’d be sadder to not ever get to use.”

How about all of you? What advice would you give to these new parents? How would you rank the names on their short list?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

 

Book reviews, radio appearance, naming aborted babies

Happy Friday! I never appreciate Fridays as much as I do when school is in session, whew!

My most recent column at CatholicMom is a review of the first two books in the Sister Mary Baruch series by Fr. Jacob Restrick, OP. I loved them! And beyond the story itself — the NAMES!! I mean, the main character is given the religious name Sr. Mary Baruch of the Advent Heart, which has loads of meaning for that character. Loooooove.

Speaking of book reviews, if any of you who have read my book are able to leave a review on Amazon, I would be most grateful! (Thank you to those who have left reviews already! I’m so grateful for each one!)

I was on Jon Leonetti’s morning radio show a couple weeks ago, and wanted to share the link for anyone who didn’t listen in: go to Jon’s show’s page on the Iowa Catholic Radio site, then scroll through his episodes to the September 17 episode — my bit starts at the 45:54 minute mark. I’d love to know what you think!

Finally, several years ago, back when the horrifying undercover Planned Parenthood videos were being released, I wrote about giving names to aborted babies, which included a discussion of why this might be an important to thing to do, and included a link to the 50 Million Names web site, “a grassroots campaign to collect names for the now-more-than 50,000,000 children aborted in our country.” My post also linked to a Students for Life post in which the name Emmett was originally suggested as the name by which the baby boy in one of the Planned Parenthood videos from the Center for Medical Progress could be known (instead of “Eleven Six,” which is how he had been being referred, for his age at the time of the abortion): “This baby deserves a name, deserves dignity that is rightly afforded him as a member of the human race.” The name Emmett was then expanded to include a second baby portrayed in another of the videos: “Call them Emmett, for they may very well be the catalysts to end abortion in our nation, just like Emmett Till.” I loved this idea — I loved having something concrete and dignity-affirming to do for all the babies whose lives were and continue to be taken from them.

There’s a new effort to do the same thing for the babies whose bodies were recently found at the home of abortionist George Klopfer, spearheaded by Priests for Life: Name the Aborted Babies Found in Illinois. One of you readers sent the link to me, thinking, rightly, that it would be a good one to share here on the blog, and normally I’d do so without reservation. Certainly, the intention is such a good one! But I more recently read that an equally ardent pro-lifer as myself thinks doing so is abhorrent, for reasons that I never considered. In a post entitled, “Fr. Pavone cashes in on dead babies again,” one of my favorite bloggers/authors, Simcha Fisher, writes:

Naming is an act either of authority, or of ownership — the act of a parent, or of an owner. You don’t get to name a baby unless you’re the parent; and you don’t get to name anything else unless it’s something that can be owned. So what does this mean, for strangers to name unborn babies they’ve never met, who do have parents? Who gave them that right?

While I don’t always agree with Simcha’s conclusions in the many important things she writes about, I often find her position helpful as I seek to clarify my own. I’ve been thinking about her post since I read it, and I’m still not sure where I land — I know she doesn’t care for Fr. Pavone (an understatement, from other things I’ve read by her about him), and the fact that he’s been rebuked by his bishop in the past for actions “not consistent with the beliefs of the Catholic Church” is so important to know. That said, I’d be interested to know if Simcha’s belief about naming aborted babies would be the same if Fr. Pavone wasn’t involved? Is it possible her dislike of him is clouding her judgment regarding this particular issue? Maybe not! I’m just not sure what I think yet. What say you?

And on that note (oh dear!), I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Thoughts on Lisieux (et al.)?

If you’re looking for a great Prime Day deal, look no further than my book of Marian names! It’s currently on sale, and there’s a $5.00 off promotion running as well! 

(You guys had SO MANY great thoughts and ideas for Kathleen’s TV character!! I loved reading them all, both here on the blog and on Facebook and Instagram! You often fill in holes in my knowledge and make connections I didn’t see. I hope to post the name Kathleen chooses soon!)

Abby from Appellation Mountain posted on Facebook a list of names trending on her site last week, which included Lisieux — a name I would only expect to see among Sancta Nomina readers! (As in St. Therese of Lisieux.) One of her readers asked how it’s pronounced, and since I’ve heard it said a couple different ways by Americans for whom English is their native language, I thought I’d do a poll on Twitter to see if one pronunciation was used by a clear majority. I first asked my mom (who took years of French) and checked out Forvo to try to replicate in writing what the actual French pronunciation is, then I added in other pronunciations I’ve heard, and posted the poll to Twitter.

lisieux

Do you see how many votes I got? Eighty five (85). Eighty five! That’s like, four times as many as I usually get for my name polls! I received several comments too, who knew this would be such a hotbed of controversy??

In hindsight, I realized I should have phrased my question differently — I wasn’t looking for the correct French pronunciation of the town, though I can see that it could come across that way. I was looking for how *you* say it — I know not everyone says it the French way, and I wanted to gather data for how the average American Catholic Joe/Jane says it (apologies to my non-American readers! I’m always happy to get your input, even if it’s not entirely relevant for American parents). I also realized it would be helpful to add the context: “Lisieux as a given first name for an American baby girl.”

Those who know and use the authentic French pronunciation were well represented both by the poll results (receiving 33% of the votes, only one percentage point behind the leader of lih-SOO, with 34%) and especially in the comments. I do appreciate how frustrating it can be for those who *know* how to say a name to hear it said “wrong” — Sean said as “SEEN” is one example for me. But even then, I’ve written about how, when it comes to proper names, no one has the market on the “correct” pronunciation.

One comment surprised me — it suggested that bestowing the name Lisieux in honor of St. Therese without using the pronunciation she would recognize is disrespectful. I disagree, and the three names that came to mind immediately as names American Catholic parents use that they generally say differently from the way their saints would have said them were Avila, Jacinta, and Kateri. I’d never seen it suggested that the American English way of saying those names is disrespectful, so I’m not sure why Lisieux would be any different. Regardless, I always think that parents’ goal of naming their baby after a beloved saint is the opposite of disrespectful. I’m trying to think of examples where I think the execution of such a lovely desire might border on disrespectful, but I can’t think of any.

I’d be interested in your input! Both on what pronunciation you would use, if you were an American Catholic parent for whom English is your first language and you wanted to name your daughter Lisieux, and whether you think using a pronunciation different than how the saint would have said it (for Lisieux or any name) is disrespectful.


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

New giveaway items (!), and Timmarie

I have so enjoyed reading all your suggestions for Kendra’s baby, both here on the blog and on Instagram (and even a few on Facebook!)! If you haven’t commented yet, you still have until Friday at midnight! I’ll announce the two winners (one from the blog, one from Instagram) on Saturday.

Speaking of the giveaway — I have more news! Kendra has so generously added her My Superhero Prayer Book: Traditional Catholic Prayers for Awesome Catholic Kids and her brand new Catholic All June companion to The Catholic All Year Compendium (read about the other months here) to the giveaway! That means that EACH winner will receive:

–> A copy of Kendra’s book The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life (Ignatius Press, 2018)

AND

–> A copy of my book Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018)

AND

–> A copy of Kendra’s My Superhero Prayer Book: Traditional Catholic Prayers for Awesome Catholic Kids

AND

–> A copy of Kendra’s Catholic All June companion to The Catholic All Year Compendium

You lucky winners will be SET with great reading material for a while!! 😀

I also wanted to ask you all about the name Timmarie. I’ve seen it from time to time here and there — only on older women — and again today, the members of my parish who died on this date were remembered by name, and one was Timmarie (she died in the early 80s). Every time I see Timmarie, I think it’s so similar to Emery in rhythm and sound, and I wonder why parents today aren’t using it? Is it because it’s an obvious mashup of Tim and Marie, which is a little out of step with today’s naming? I searched through the SSA database and it didn’t make the top 1000 in any year, and I searched the 2018 births and the 1910 births and it didn’t appear there (or as the spelling Timarie). Do you any of you know any Timmaries? What do you think of the name?

Happy Thursday!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

A big week for names!

Happy Mother’s Day weekend!! Don’t forget to enter the Massive Mother’s Day Giveaway — it ends tonight at midnight! I’ll email the winner tomorrow!

Also, if you could help Charlotte, please do — she’s in a desperate state with her health and being unable to afford proper medical care, she just can’t get ahead of it and is really suffering.

Did you all see the 2018 name stats that were released yesterday by the Social Security Administration? Were you surprised by any in the top ten?

2018topten

A few people over on Instagram expressed surprise over Evelyn being no. 10, which is funny, because it was actually at no. 9 in 2017 — it dropped a spot in 2018 — and I wrote about it in my post on the 2017 data last year:

From your comments on Instagram, Evelyn also seems to be surprising to some of you. As I mentioned on IG, when my 13yo was three, one of his classmates’ mom had a baby girl whom she named Evelyn, and back then I thought it sounded like such an old lady name. Turns out it entered the top 100 in 2002 for the first time since 1953 and in fact is now, at no. 9, the most popular it’s ever been — its previous highest was no. 10 in 1915. In my mind, it’s part of the Evangeline/Genevieve/Vivian-nicknamed-Evie/Vivi sisters. And in fact Evie increased in 2017 as well!

I haven’t looked at all the new data yet, but I was perusing the list of names that increased in popularity last night and was so surprised that Genesis was the boy name with the greatest increase in 2018: it went up 608 spots from no. 1592 to 984, entering the top 1000. That’s a big increase! And I don’t know what it was caused by! I did a quick search to see if something happened in 2017 or 2018 to cause such a spike in interest, and did discover that Alicia Keys has a son named Genesis, but he was born in 2014, so I don’t think he was the catalyst.

I was telling my hubs about Genesis last night, which he too was shocked by (he didn’t even know parents were naming their kids Genesis, so he’s not the best gauge), but he also asked a great question: he wanted to know how many births that jump in popularity actually represented. So I looked that up and there were 209 baby boys born in 2018 that were named Genesis, up from 101 in 2017. That’s not a huge amount of babies. Also, Genesis for a girl is vastly more popular — 4068 girls born in 2018 named Genesis, and the spelling Jenesis for girls actually increased 121 spots, from 1087 to 966, entering the top 1000. Quite a year for G/Jenesis!

I was also interested that Meghan was the girl name that increased the most in popularity, up 701 spots from 1404 to 703 and certainly due to Prince Harry’s Mrs. Speaking of Prince Harry and his Mrs. … what about Harry’s and Meghan’s baby boy?? I couldn’t wait to find out what they named him! As I mentioned on Instagram, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was so unexpected to me, but I expected his name to be unexpected, so I guess Harry and Meghan delivered! I loved Harrison for Harry’s son from the moment I read it, perfection! Archie and similar names are trendy in the UK right now, and turns out Archie entered the top 1000 in the US in 2018, so that makes it a good mix of British and American to me. (I did just read that Archie was the name of Meghan’s childhood cat … I’m not sure what to think of that.)

Back to the SSA data, I’m sure I’ll have more to say after I finish looking through it all, but in the meantime, I loved reading Abby’s take, as always, as well as Laura Wattenberg’s (the Baby Name Wizard, who has a new web site and a new name!) and Nameberry’s.

Also, I have a great consultation to post on Monday for a mama who’s familiar to many of you and who’s expecting baby no. 10 — I know you’ll all love it!

Finally, just a tip for any of you still looking for a present for the moms in your life: my book is a fantastic gift! And though it won’t be delivered by tomorrow if you order today (unless you pay a million dollars in shipping, depending on where you live), you could always order it and then print out a picture of it to put in the Mother’s Day card you give your mom/wife/whoever, with a promise that it’s in the mail! 😉

Have a great rest of the weekend!! ❤ ❤ ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!