Celebrity guest: Meghan, literary+Catholic namer

The consultation I had scheduled for today had to be postponed, so I’m excited to bump up this post I had scheduled for later this week!

When I worked on that post on Catholic literary names the week before last, and saw all of your great comments and suggestions, I immediately thought of a beautiful family who I follow on Instagram whose daughters have the most amazing Catholic+literary names and I’d been meaning for ages to ask the mama if I could share them on here! So I asked and she said yes and I’m delighted to share their name stories with you all today!

Meghan is a FertilityCare Practitioner teaching the Creighton Mode of NFP, and her husband is “in the editing phases of his first book (!!!) and frequently freelances for the Catholic Beer Club and Aleteia.” What a cool couple!

They have three daughters, and Meghan writes,

The source of our inspiration for our first names thus far has largely been from literature, so far authors have been the namesake of our three girls. But as we’ve created lists before each birth they’ve spanned all aspects of literature. Aside from that, we like them all to have a little nod to our Catholic faith, but in a unique/eclectic not-so-traditional way. I’ve been told my names are Catholic hipster, but trust me — least. hipster. girl. ever. over here, full blown SAHM stuff of your childhood happening, so I don’t know how I’m doing it.”

😂😂😂

My husband and I are both avid readers (at least we try!) and big literature fans. Neither of us got degrees relating to the subject, but both love to write! … We never find out the gender of our babies before they are born, so while we await their arrival, we typically have a short running list of names for both a boy and a girl.

We always S T R U G G L E to think of boy names that fit in with our style … or should I say we struggle to agree on boy names, we both can come up with boy names for days, but none that the other is on board with. But the Lord has been merciful to us in that and we have only girls so far!

With this last pregnancy I was very near considering contacting you for a consult when it came to boy name ideas just in case we had one because I was panicking! Thankfully we came to an agreement — one so oddly obvious we couldn’t believe it hadn’t been decided on earlier!

As a Meghan (a very popular name at its prime) it was important to me that we tried for more unique names! …. We are both QUITE Irish and so we often find ways to hint toward our ancestry in a lot of our name choices.”

Are you all ready to see these beautiful names?! (( drumroll ))

Flannery Ellen: “She’s named after Flannery O’Connor. The name accomplished just what we wanted. Something unique, with a Catholic flavor to it — something subtle that only the most Catholic and well-read among us usually pick up on. We tend to make fast friends with priests and scholars when we introduce Flannery! Now her middle name is a little bit of a different story. First of all, I’m picky about how the first name and middle name sound together. But when it gets down to it, her middle name is after my youngest sister Ellie. But we also have some other women from my side of the family that it subtly alludes too — I have a grandma and a great-grandma both named Helen, so its kind of a nice marrying of all those lovely ladies. I always assume that Flannery may take St. Helen as a patron one day if she so chooses!

Harper Edel: “First, I have to clarify that we have chosen a different pronunciation for ‘Edel’, we say it like it rhymes with ‘pedal’. We thought it added to the uniqueness of her name to have a different pronunciation, which was important to us since as it turned out Harper had a bit of a rise in popularity around the time she was born. But as you can guess, her first name is after Harper Lee the well loved author of To Kill a Mockingbird. And Ven. Edel Quinn for her middle name. I had to be on bed rest for three months while pregnant with Harper and I was reading a lot about this incredible Irish Missionary during that time. One day when Zach came home I just told him, “if we have a girl we have to name her after this powerhouse Irish missionary!” Seriously, she is so legit. Fearless, disciplined, selfless, and zealous! All traits I hope my girls will embody in some way!

Willa Margaret: “She is named after Willa Cather who famously penned O Pioneers and Death Comes for an Archbishop. I also have a great great Aunt Willa who was known to be stunning and strong. My great grandmother is still living (91!) and loves when we bring little Willa to visit her — you can see the rush of nostalgia just at the mention of her name! She has a hard time remembering who everyone is, but she always remembers that there is a baby named Willa! Now the Margaret part … So, our girls were on a big Daniel Tiger kick while I was pregnant and they do a fantastic job in that show explaining how it will be when mom has a new baby and so naturally, my girls related very well to this. Maybe a little too well … Daniel Tiger’s baby sister is named Margaret in the cartoon, “Baby Margaret”. Just kind of became how the girls referred to the baby in my belly — even though we didn’t know the gender! This went on for so long and no matter what I said to try and explain that if the baby was a boy it wouldn’t be named Margaret, etc. etc. I started to just say, “If it’s a girl, maybe that can be her middle name”. Well, then while I was pregnant we drew patron saints for the year and the patron we drew for the baby was St. Margaret of Cortona … so finally after a few months of ‘maybe that will be her middle name’ I had to ask my husband if that was in fact going to be our potential daughter’s middle name!? We both just decided … Why not!? So that one just sort of happened haha! But I love it!

Aren’t these ah-MAZ-ing names??!! Can you see why I was so taken with them, and why I wanted to share them here?? I love each one!!

I asked Meghan if she would feel comfortable sharing some of the names on their list for the future, and this is what she said:

-Emerson, for either boy or girl. We were kind of leaning toward boy even though I kind of preferred it as a girl name (but then my cousin had a baby girl and named her Emerson, so I decided to nix it for now)

– Louis, Zach LOVES Louis Lamore, but I just wasn’t so sure if it fit with the style…

– Jack Clement (I love all the hard ‘k ‘ sounds especially with our last name), After Jack London and then Clement after St. Clement but its also a family name of Zach’s. He had a cousin a few generations back who died very young from tuberculosis while working as a doctor, it just sounds so romantically like the story of many of the great saints we know and love, I often dream up what he may have been like!

– Gilbert, because G.K. Chesterton and also Anne of Green Gables

– J.D.- One of my husband’s favorite books is the Catcher in the Rye, so he was really trying to talk me into Jerome David, but I just can’t get on board with initials … or Jerome for that matter.

– Quinn and Sully, okay okay — these are more inspired by my mild obsession with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, but I love Quinn for a girl and Sully for a boy and I think stylistically they work with our current names. So help me find a literary tie so I can get them on the list for next time! 😉 I tried suggesting Solanus Casey, nicknamed Sully … hubby LOVES Solanus Casey — we’ll see if we ever have a boy haha!

Authors/ books we love and would love to use as inspiration:
Some of these are our most favorite books/ authors but we struggle to find a way to utilize them in a way that matches our naming style and is unique …
John Steinbeck
Ernest Hemingway
Little House on the Prairie (we recently just moved back to SD and are reading them with the girls)
C.S. Lewis
East of Eden
Anne of Green Gables
Charles Dickens
I know there are more, but my brain and memory are failing me …

I love all of this!! I personally think Gilbert is a slam dunk for them — I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think “Gilbert Blythe” upon hearing the name, so to me it fits in perfectly with the obviously literary first names their girls have, and that tie-in with G.K. Chesterton is so great! Sully for Solanus is amazing too, I love that! I don’t know of any literary connections though?

Other ideas off the top of my head include:
Wilder (b) for Little House on the Prairie (but too much “er” with Harper?)
Eden (g) for East of Eden (similar in appearance to Edel, but okay since one is a middle name and one might be a first name?)
Blythe (g) for Anne of Green Gables (but this would knock Gilbert out of contention)
Caspian (b) for C.S. Lewis, loooove!

I looked through the comments you all left on the Catholic lit post and thought these might be good (though I haven’t read the books they’re from yet):

Brede (for In This House of Brede, which wasn’t on Meghan’s list but I like Brede! Reminds me of Bridey from Brideshead Revisited, and it’s said like the Irish name Bríd)
Ransom (from C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy)

And I did a quick search on the Name Matchmaker on the babynamewizard site for names that have a similar style to Flannery, Harper, and Willa, and I really liked these (though they’re not all related to the books/authors Meghan said they like):

Darcy (Mr. Darcy! But I like it better for a girl)
Scarlett (she’s got that Irish thing going on too!)
Jules (Jules Verne)
Atticus (too much with Harper?)
Barrett (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Bennet (the Bennet sisters)
Tennyson (such a cool name!)
Gulliver (I always thought Gulliver and Tennyson would make a cool pair of brothers)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this family spotlight! Thank you to Meghan for sharing all of this with us! If you have any name ideas for this family, please leave them in the comments, and be sure to hop on over to Meghan’s Instagram to catch a peek of her little lovelies!

📚💐🌷🌻🌹🌺📚💐🌷🌻🌹🌺📚💐🌷🌻🌹🌺📚

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Stories of St. Gerard, Sr. Anselm, Sr. Theotokos

I don’t usually post on Sundays, but I was so moved by Mass today, and I wanted to share with you something Father said. Our parish is a Redemptorist parish, and one of their priests has come to do a mission at our church this week; this morning he said Mass and introduced himself and told us about his work and his experiences. What I particularly wanted to post is that he has a great amount of confidence in St. Gerard’s intercession for anyone hoping to have a baby. He mentioned how there were several times recently at other missions he’d done where he prayed with a couple who had been struggling to have a baby for St. Gerard’s intercession, and then asked them to email him when they’d conceived — and of course he received the emails not long after!

He also told the story of his own mother, who really wanted a son after having had two girls (and he’s Lebanese, so he said that played a role too — both his parents really wanted a boy!). So he said his mom did a 9 month novena to St. Gerard while she was pregnant and was blessed with not one boy, but two — he’s a twin — he and his brother are Thomas Gerard and Charles Gerard! I loved that story so much!

Unrelatedly, but still something I think you’ll all appreciate, he said he was stationed in Lebanon for a while, and knew Sr. Anselm while there — she’s one of the Missionaries of Charity sisters who were shot by ISIS last year this month. Funny enough, I’d looked up that very story yesterday, as I’d had the great privilege of attending the celebration of the 33rd anniversary of the foundation of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) and the opening of the IVE monastery in Auriesville, NY (location of the Shrine of the North American Martyrs and Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, martyrdom of St. Isaac Jogues, and birth of St. Kateri), and a whole bunch of the Order’s sisters were there (Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara [SSVM]; we met one who introduced herself as Sr. Theotokos, which I love so much; I googled her, and her full name is Sr. Maria Theotokos, love love!), and I was thinking that they reminded me of the sisters who had been killed last year, so I’d looked them up to see if they were the same Order (I hadn’t remembered that they were Mother Teresa’s Order). Such a weird coincidence that I’d just looked them up yesterday and they were mentioned today!

My husband and I are going to attend as much of the mission as we can, and I’ll keep all of you and your intentions in my prayers during this week. St. Gerard and the martyred sisters, pray for us!

Annie Oakley and her mom

My grandmother’s on my mind today, as this was the day she died twenty six years ago. Her name was Anne, which I’m sure is one of the reasons St. Anne feels so grandmotherly to me (that and, you know, the fact that she is The Grandmother of God. Nbd). 😂

Not only was her name Anne, but her married name was Oakley. Yes indeedy, my grandmother was Annie Oakley! I had this book growing up:

annie_oakley

And my grandmother was similarly blond and blue-eyed, so she and Annie Oakley were always intertwined in my mind! 😄 I called her Mimi, and we were quite close.

Her last birthday card to me. 💕 I always loved her handwriting.

Anyway, I was thinking about her today and thought I’d enlist you all in helping find out more info about her mom. My mom and I have been looking for a long time and haven’t come up with much, and you all have so much life experience and relationships that could lead to the info we’re hoping to find! So here’s her story as we know it:

She was brought to what is now known as New York Foundling, an orphanage founded in 1869 by the Sisters of Charity, in August 1910 by a woman who said she was her mother. My grandmother was about two weeks old, and her mother signed a paper saying she’d return for the baby in one year (she never returned). She signed her name “Mary Ferguson” and gave the baby’s name as “Anne Lewis,” and said that the baby had been “born at home,” giving the address as 112 West 62nd Street. The Sisters had her baptized by a Dominican priest, Fr. Wilson, O.P., from nearby St. Vincent Ferrer church. All this info was given to us by the NY Foundling from their records.

Mom and I decided to find 112 W. 62nd St. on a trip to the City, only to discover that Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus is now on the site. I did some more research and determined that the Twelfth Regiment Armory was on that site in 1910 (between west 61 and west 62 on the west side of Columbus ave; built in 1886 and demolished in 1958), so I don’t know what that means — a bogus address probably? I did look at the census for 112 EAST 62nd St., just in case, which was a residence, but no Mary Ferguson or anyone by the last name Lewis living there. There were a bunch of apartment hotels close by 112 W. 62nd St., the Century Theatre was a block away on the same street, and several houses of prostitution in the surrounding blocks, all of which paint a picture, to me, of an area in which a girl could easily find herself unmarried, pregnant, and alone. Thank goodness she knew to go to the Sisters! My grandmother was adopted at the age of two and went on to have a life that led to my grandfather. 💕

I’ve spent countless hours online, both on Ancestry.com (I have many many times gone through the 1910 census records looking for any Ferguson or Lewis at that address [doesn’t exist in the census] or surrounding streets) and doing internet searches of various kinds. I’ve looked at census and immigration records for Mary Ferguson — it doesn’t help that it’s got to be one of the most common names in NYC at that time! I even looked at the signatures on a bunch of immigration records, trying to match them up with the the signature Mary Ferguson left on the document she signed at the Foundling (no luck).

One fun bit of info is that I hired a professional genealogist who found that there was a 22-year-old named Mary Ferguson living at the Foundling, listed as a servant, when the census was taken in 1910! Could be a coincidence, but maybe not! I never thought to look at their census records, I love knowing that bit of info. So if she was 22 in April 1910, she would have been born in 1888 or 1889. The genealogist didn’t find any other info, but did confirm that the 12th Regiment Armory was at that spot, though its address would have been Columbus Ave. as its front faced that way.

It would be amazing if any of you read this and thought, “Hey! That sounds like this story I heard from my family tree!” Or maybe you’ll think to mention it to someone in casual conversation who will perk up and say, “That’s my great-grandmother’s exact story!” You never know!

Celebrity guest: Katie, mom who did the John Paul + middle thing really well

I met Katie, one of you wonderful readers, at the Syracuse Catholic Women’s Conference in October, and I got to meet her littlest guy, snoozing away in his wrap (soooo cute. I.love.babies!), who has one of my very favorite names for one of my very favorite saints: John Paul!

So of course we started chatting about names, and she was telling me that her husband hadn’t wanted John Paul to have a middle name, because he thought that three names was too much, and my interest was immediately piqued, because I know this very issue has been struggled with regarding this very name by some of you (and myself as well!).

So I was literally waiting with bated breath to hear how they resolved it (not even joking, I’m a little breathless about names 😂) when we got interrupted (this sweet old lady came over to tell Katie how much she reminded her of the Madonna and Child, which she totally did) and I never heard the rest of the story.

So yes, I emailed Katie! And we had a nice virtual chat and she said it would be okay for me to post about her John Paul’s name, as well as her seven other kiddos’ names! I’m so excited to introduce this beautiful family to you today and share their names with you!

To start, here’s the end to the John Paul + middle name story:

Yes, he said three names were too many so we were at an impasse. I ended up having a c-section bc baby turned to breech in labor. After [my husband] saw the c-section, I was wheeled back into my room. He said “I’ll name this baby anything you want!” So we went with John Paul on the birth certificate but John Paul Anthony is his name on his baptism certificate, birth announcement, etc. Turns out the husband was just worried about the blanks on the birth certificate form.”

Isn’t that a fantastic solution?! I could see a lot of people being really relieved to let go of the idea that the child’s name can only be what’s on the birth certificate. Like, the legal name is the legal name, but the legal name doesn’t have to be *the name*, you know? I kind of love the idea of a baby’s *real name* only being official with the Church and friends/family/real life. And doing so opens up so many options!

Of course I wanted to know what little John Paul Anthony’s big sibs were named, and I really love each one of them and the reasons behind them:

Daniel Thomas (“named for family friend & my step-dad“)

James Michael (“we liked James & Michael is for my husband“)

Joseph William (“we just liked those names“)

Benjamin Jon (“liked the name Benjamin, Jon is the husband’s middle name“)

Samuel Luke (“I liked the names & the Bible theme…kids liked Sam Gribley from My Side of the Mountain and Luke Skywalker from Star Wars“)

Twins:
Robert Jacob (“Robert because the husband REALLY liked the name and I was so pregnant with twins that I had no energy to argue. Jacob is for my great grandfather“)

Mary Lucille (“Mary for my grandmother, Lucille because we were going to call her Lucy. But when she was born, I was asking for Mary’s intercession in labor & as I was hemorrhaging after. So when I held our little girl, I felt like a heel not calling her Mary. 😁 “)

John Paul Anthony (“love JP2, all the dads and grandpas are named John. Anthony is because with all these boys, I have a devotion to St. Anthony. Without him we would never go anyplace bc we would never have keys or socks“)

My naming style is less traditional…if it were up to me, we’d have Gavin, Ignatius, Leo, Henry, etc. the husband likes the 80s names…So I consider our name choices a good compromise.”

I LOVED reading all of this! All those boys! And that one sweet little lady! I died over Katie’s comment that Mary Lucille was supposed to be Lucy but after Our Lady’s intercession in labor “I felt like a heel not calling her Mary”!! 😂😂😂

 

Thank you so much to Katie for sharing all this fun and fabulous info with us! Check out her beautiful children (all photos taken by Mary Wiseman):

View More: http://weekly.pass.us/katie-1

Age order: Daniel, James, Joseph, Benjamin, Samuel, Robert, Mary, and John Paul

Some really cute ones of her younger kiddos:

Clockwise from top left: John Paul, Samuel, Joseph, Mary and Bobby, Dad and Bobby, Mary

💖👕👕👕👕👕👕👗👕💖

Celebrity guest: Quad mom Justina

I don’t remember how I came across Justina, but I think it was on Twitter … I swooned over “Setting the world on fire, Catherine of Siena style” in her Twitter bio as well as her marriage/NFP/pro-life posts, so I already knew she was my kinda girl, and then when I was clicking around as you do when you “meet” someone new online, I checked out her and her husband Matt’s wedding photos and honeymoon photos, which are like from a magazine (both the photos and the subjects — stunning couple!), and then I discovered she was expecting quadruplets (!!!!). Well. I was immediately smitten with this beautiful mama, and followed her on Instagram to keep up with her journey, and when she had the babies I just died over how precious they are.

And their names! So amazing! Of course I had to ask her if she would mind sharing their story, and she graciously agreed, and I’m so delighted to share it with all of you today! So without further ado … ((drumroll)) … read all about the Kopp Quad Squad!

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Kopp-45.jpg

Kate: Quadruplets are a big deal! Would you mind sharing your reaction to finding out you were expecting four babies? Especially after previously losing a baby? Is there anything else about your story you’d like to share?

Justina: Quads ARE a big deal! After losing our first baby, Francis Jude, to an early miscarriage just seven weeks into our marriage, we went through a season of unexplained secondary infertility, most likely due to PCOS. After a few months of working with my doctor, we found ourselves very pregnant! The chances of this were less than 0.3%. I’ve heard estimates as low as 1 in 700,000! At that first ultrasound at 6 weeks, Matt and I were nervous about an ectopic pregnancy because I had been feeling sharp, specific pain. At the beginning of the ultrasound, I thought I saw four gestational sacs, but I didn’t want to say anything and assumed I was wrong. When we saw the first baby’s heartbeat, we both cried with joy because we had never seen that before with our Francis. Then the sonographer chuckled and labeled that baby, Baby A. Next came Baby B. We got so excited about twins! Then, the sonographer found Baby C, and we laughed and made jokes about how I would grow a third arm during the pregnancy to accommodate triplets. The sonographer took a look at the fourth gestational sac, and it was empty. Strangely, we felt peace and I thought about how that little saint would join Francis in heaven. Our doctor stepped in to take a peak, and I noted that we hadn’t gotten a photo of Baby C, and as she went back for that, Baby D appeared in the fourth sac! QUADS! We just LAUGHED! There is nothing else to do by laugh in that situation! Don’t worry, though; two days later, everything hit us and we panicked a bit.

Kate: Did you know the genders ahead of time, or were you surprised (and therefore have to pick eight names)?

Justina: We found out the genders at 16 weeks. We had enough surprises for that pregnancy, so we chose to find out. I refused to brainstorm names for all the possible gender combinations, so we really didn’t talk about names until we knew what we were having.

Kate: I’d love to hear your thoughts on the particular challenges of picking names for four babies!

Justina: Four names was hard, but not as hard as it would have been for us if we were having more girls! I could name boys for days, no problem. That girl name, though… that was the challenge. For the past five years or so, I’ve kept a running list of boy names and girl names that I liked. When it came to naming our daughter, I looked at that list and hated every name I saw! For a while, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to find one we liked!

Kate: Could you list your babies’ names, and tell us how you and your hubby choose them? Were there particular saints you wanted to honor, for example? Are there layers of meaning to each name other than the obvious? (E.g., family names, that kind of thing.) Any other place you looked to for inspiration? (If you named your baby in heaven, I’d love to hear about him or her as well, but I understand if you’d prefer to keep it private.)

Justina:

Cora Immaculée – We knew we wanted our little girl to have a Marian name, but we didn’t want Mary, Marie, Maria, etc. This little lady had a bright spot on her heart in her early ultrasounds, so that brought name Cora, which means “heart” or “maiden.” Immaculée is a nod to Our Lady. Together, her name means “Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Raphael Gerard – St. Raphael is actually both Matt’s and my confirmation saint! Matt picked him because he’s the patron saint of travelers, and I picked him because he’s the patron saint of physicians (I had my eye on a career in medicine) and because my parents named my miscarried siblings Raphael. The real kicker is that St. Raphael is the patron saint of singles and happy meetings. So, here we are. Happily met with a lot of babies. The name means “God has healed,” a fitting name for a pregnancy after a miscarriage. Gerard was a last minute switch from Blaise. The babies were born on the feast of St. Gerard, the patron saint of expectant mothers. We call him Raph (rhymes with calf).

Theodore Ambrose – Theodore is the name of Matt’s late maternal grandfather, and both Theodore and Ambrose are family names on my side. Theodore means “God’s gift,” which is kind of funny because Matt’s name also means “gift of God.” Sts. Theodore and Ambrose are saints that we both admire, too. St. Theodore was a martyr and one of the “soldier saints.” St. Ambrose played a huge part in St. Augustine’s conversion, served the poor, and stood up against heresies of his time. These two saints together represented the unique calling we have as Catholics in this age, to defend our faith bravely and pray for conversion of hearts. We call this little guy Theo.

Benedict Peter – We both came up with this name on our own and brought it to each other one night. When we studied in Rome, we both got to read at papal Masses with Pope Benedict XVI, and I think I *might* be B16’s biggest fan. St. Benedict is also a saint we admire, and we love that the name means “blessed.” Peter was also my dad’s name. He passed away 9.5 years ago, and I wanted to honor him without taking away an opportunity for my younger siblings to use the name as a first name when then have children of their own someday. St. Peter is also the saint that just gets me, as we are both Sanguine/Choleric. We call our sweet boy Ben.

Francis Jude – Our little saint is named after St. Francis and St. Jude. St. Francis is a saint that I grew close to during my semester in Rome, and on our honeymoon we spent a few days in Assisi. We felt such joy and peace during our time there, and it stands out for both of us as such a special time in those early days of our marriage. St. Jude was picked because he is the patron saint of impossible causes, and gosh, did things feel impossible after losing our first baby. Both of these saints are October saints, which is when we lost our sweet babe. Francis can also be Frances, as we do not know the gender of our saint.

Ultimately, we wanted our children to have strong, traditional, and timeless names. We love what we picked for our kiddos. They are all fraternal, so we wanted them to have names that could stand alone if they were not quadruplets, too.

Aren’t these names ah-MAZ-ing??!! And every single detail of the naming is so perfect!!

Be sure also to check out Justina’s blog, Love Multiplied, whose first post (which she purposely put up this past Sunday on the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade 💕) tells more about finding out they were expecting quadruplets, and their meeting with the perinatologist. Such a great witness!

Thank you thank you to Justina for sharing her family’s wonderful story with us!! Check out how big and happy these beautiful babies are!!

Cora Immaculée, Raphael Gerard, Theodore Ambrose, Benedict Peter

(Cora, Raph, Theo, and Ben)

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Celebrity guest: Kate Wicker, author & speaker

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!! What a beautiful feast day, one of my favorites! Feast days are celebration days, and I’ve got a lovely treat for you all today! 💕🎁

I’ve “known” Kate Wicker through her blog for years — her oldest and mine are just about the same age, and she and I had babies at roughly the same pace, and she’s a writer like me (though far more accomplished, being that she’s the health columnist for Catholic Digest and has written for numerous regional and national media, including Atlanta Parent, Catholic Exchange, CatholicMom.com, Catholic News Agency, Children’s Ministry Magazine, Crisis Magazine, Family Fun, Fathers For Good, Pregnancy, Pittsburgh Parent, WhattoExpect.com, and Woman’s Day. She’s also a monthly guest on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air Show, has appeared in Danielle Bean’s Momnipotent DVD series, and has been a guest on the Faith & Family LIVE and Among Women podcasts, Huffington Post Live (known as HuffPost Live), Kresta in the Afternoon radio show, and EWTN’s Son Rise Morning Show among others. Whew! 💃), so I’ve felt a kinship with her in the way that fangirls do with their mom/blogging heroes. 😍😍😍

Then she went a wrote a book (Weightless: Making Peace With Your Body, informed by her own struggles with a clinical eating disorder and written from a Catholic perspective), and she’s got a new one coming out soon (Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood, which I’m currently working on a review of [spoiler: it’s amazing!]; it’s available for pre-order here), AND — she’s got a new baby on the way!

Yes! A new baby! A boy! Her little guy joins three big sisters and a big brother, and Kate graciously humored me when I asked if she would mind sharing a little about the hows and whys of her kiddos’ amazing names, as well as any thoughts she and her husband have about naming the new baby. I know you’ll love all of what she has to say!

family-photo-2016

(This photo was taken when Kate had just found out No. 5 was on the way!)

I’m a gestating machine at 36 weeks pregnant with baby number five. This one is our second boy and since we already have three girls, you’d think we’d have bountiful selection of boy monikers. However, my husband and I both struggle far more with coming up with names for the XY chromosome set than the girls. Our children’s names are all very classic, so we’ve joked that maybe we will throw everyone for a loop and slap on some eccentric name like Mango (to Gwyneth’s Apple) or Blade for this little one!

With our last baby, we didn’t find out the gender until birth. After three girls, I assumed we would be adding some more sugar and spice to our family (if truth be told, all of my kids add more spice than straight-up sweet sugar to my life). I had a whole list of girls’ names to choose from (Jane Clare being a top contender), but we had only one boy name chosen: Thomas Kemp. My husband’s dad had conducted extensive genealogy research for both his side of the family and my own, and then he put together an amazing book detailing our familial history (best gift ever!). We discovered my husband had ancestors who sailed on the Mayflower, and I’m distantly related to George Washington. The book was chock full of family names, and we perused it one day and both decided we liked Thomas (a name belonging to several of our ancestors). Kemp is a family name; it belonged to my husband’s grandfather who passed away from ALS before I had a chance to meet him. I also felt it was a solid Catholic name since the author of the Christian classic The Imitation of Christ was Thomas à Kempis. Well, lo and behold, we welcomed our first boy into the world, so Thomas Kemp it was. When we baptized him, the priest, a family friend, complimented the name choice and asked if it had anything to do with Thomas à Kempis. (I may have performed an imaginary fist pump in the air for my Catholic name-choosing awesomeness.) We always call him Thomas – no Tom or Tommy, please. My dad (a lover of nicknames) does sometimes call him “T,” which I like. Growing up, I was Katie-Did or M.L.M.D.M.T.D. (short for My Love, My Dove, My Treasure Divine; I was my dad’s only girl. J To this day, my dad gives almost everyone some sort of nickname.

As for all of our daughters’ names, I’d always loved the name of Madeline, but I also considered Clare for our first. We decided on Madeline Louise before she was born. I write journals during pregnancy to all of my babies, so it was beautiful being able to call her by her name in her letters. My mom’s mother sadly died when my mom was only a teenager and they had always had a very close relationship. My late grandmother’s name was Dorothy Louise; that’s where Madeline’s middle name comes from. I almost always call my daughter Madeline (she’s 12 now – sheesh!), but a lot of family and friends call her Maddy, and my dad sometimes affectionately refers to her as Maddy Lou.

We named our second child Rachel Marie, and we called her by that full name for awhile because it just rolls off the tongue so beautifully. But we eventually shortened it to Rachel or Rae. I love calling her Rae or even Rae-Rae, and the lullaby I sang to her when she was a baby was “You Are My Sunshine,” and I’ve always thought of her as my “Rae” of sunshine. My husband’s sister is named Rachel and his mom also had an aunt named Rachel, so it’s a family name as well. Marie is, too. My mom’s name is Eileen Marie, and I’m Kate Marie (just Kate on my birth certificate; it’s not short for anything, although my family refers to me as Katie most of the time). Marie is such a classic, lovely name, and it goes well with almost any first name! Rachel is 9 now. When she was little, we all called her Baby Rae since that’s what Big Sister Madeline started referring to her as. I still frequently call her Rae-Rae and suspect I always will.

Next up was Mary Elizabeth, also known as M.E. or just Mary. She was almost a Jane Clare. My husband liked the name Emmie, but we both agreed that we wanted her to also have a more sophisticated moniker for when she was older. We came up with M.E. (pronounced like Emmie) that could be short for Mary Elizabeth, a quintessential Catholic name. M.E. answers to any of these names – Mary Elizabeth, M.E., or Mary – but she’s told me recently she thinks she prefers simply “Mary.” Although when she was just learning to write, she loved how short the name M.E. was!

Both my husband and I definitely prefer to steer clear of overly trendy names and do tend to gravitate toward traditional names that run in our families. This go-around, as I mentioned, we have no solid picks for our baby boy (suggestions are welcome!). I like Joseph, but my husband isn’t as crazy about it. We all like William (kids included), but William Wicker makes me chuckle and think of the “Wuv, true wuv” line from The Princess Bride. James is a contender, but we’re not completely sold. We like the name John, but there are tons of Johns still alive and well on both sides of our families. I don’t tend to worry too much proprietary rights to names, but I know some parents take it very seriously. We did briefly consider Gerald since this is my husband’s father’s name, but then we realized people might accuse us of having a Tom and Jerry. No thank you.

I’m thinking we will likely decide upon a name when baby number 5 makes his big debut! I’m due in early January, so stay tuned.

Kate, thanks so much for having me.

Aren’t these great name stories??! There are so many details I love — the family and faith connections in each name; the way Mary Elizabeth’s name started with a love of “Emmie” (M.E. for Emmie is so darling! As is the fact that M.E. currently prefers Mary, so sweet); and how Thomas Kemp immediately brings Thomas á Kempis to mind — it was my first thought when Kate announced his birth, and how cool that Kemp is a family name!

So … Kate said “suggestions are welcome!” for her little boy … you know I can’t not offer some ideas! So based on Madeline, Mary, Elizabeth, Rachel, Thomas, Jane, Clare, Joseph, William, James, John, and Gerald (and not knowing, of course, any family names, so I get it if none of these work) I would suggest:

(1) Charles
Thomas and Charles have a great gentlemanly feel together! I think Charles Wicker sounds great, and Charlie is an adorable nickname. There are also loads of other nickname ideas for Charles that I’m pretty swoony over (seeing as how I love a good offbeat nickname).

(2) Stephen
Like how Kate’s Thomas is just Thomas, I really love the full Stephen. Thomas and Stephen are great brother names!

(3) Daniel
Daniel always has a sweet, affectionate feel to me because of Danny Boy. It’s classic and biblical and just a great name.

(4) Benjamin
Benjamin is mostly inspired by Rachel — Madeline, Mary Elizabeth, and Thomas have a very traditional feel, and while Rachel is just as traditional, it has a little something different that I think Benjamin mirrors.

(5) Henry
Finally, Henry — one of the sweetest names ever, and having some great heavy-hitting patron saints. I love Henry with Kate’s other kids!

Two additional thoughts: One of the combos I’ve been loving recently is James Kolbe (I like the nickname Jake for it, but it’s great on its own), and it feels a lot like Thomas Kemp to me, with the unusual middle name that’s really saintly, so I thought I’d offer that as well. Also, while Kate and her hubs might not have any babies after this one, if they’re ever blessed with another girl, Jane won’t be usable if they use John this time. You know what a conundrum it can be in regards to saving a beloved name for later at the expense of this baby’s name now! But I thought it was important to note.

And those are all my thoughts/ideas! What do you all think? What ideas do you have for this little boy?

Thanks again to Kate for sharing all this fun info with us! Please keep her in your prayers as she nears the end of her pregnancy and gets ready to meet her Little Mister, and be sure to check out her web site, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more info about her books and her musings on motherhood and more!

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Celebrity guest: Sharon from Baby My Love

I attended the Syracuse Catholic Women’s Conference at the end of October and had the very great pleasure of meeting someone I’d only known by her handle — mommashaunie (and how hilarious is it when you’re meeting someone in real life that you’d previously only known online and you whisper self consciously, “Are you mommashaunie?” 😂) — who turns out is actually named Sharon, and she was selling the gorgeous wares from her Etsy shop Baby My Love (“Knit bonnets and hats, leather moccasins, diapers, wool covers, blankets, lovey’s, burp cloths, wipes, bibs, nursing covers, boppy covers, headbands, knit animals, and everything in between”) (on Facebook and Instagram as well) which, if I could have, I would have bought all of because they were all.so.beautiful.

We also had a little chat about, um, names, and I loved her kiddos’ names so much I had to share them here! Fortunately she was game — I think you’re going to love all these!

Names…Names have definitely been something that Zeb and I enjoy when a new baby comes along. I truly believe that God has a name chosen for each soul He creates, and it’s our job to discover it. I take this job VERY seriously. 😉 

Our first, is Miss Gemma Agnes. I was determined to name my first girl after my grandmother, who was my world! Her name was Agnes Emma, but she despised her first name. So naturally I was going to go with Emma Agnes, BUT, one of my sister and Brother-in-law’s [named their baby] Emma 5 months before our baby was born. Zebulon suggested just switching to Gemma Agnes, and once I read St. Gemma’s story, I was hooked.

Our next girl was “going” to be Bernadette Marie, but I had a dream about a little blonde swinging at the park, and she did NOT look like a Bernadette, she looked like a Felicity (I ALWAYS loved the story of St. Felicity and Perpetua), so we went with Felicity Anne, and low and behold, she is a brunette. LOL!

My husband had requested the name, Nicodemus, for his first son, from almost the moment that we first met. Our next conception was a 13 week miscarriage, though we didn’t know the gender, we chose Baby Nic to be for either girls or boy (Nicholas or Nicole).

Next, we were blessed with a son, and he is our Nicodemus Joseph.

Our next conception was our dear, sweet, earth side saint. This little one was a sweet princess and at 30 weeks, I had still NOT pinned down a name, I was thinking Gwendolyn for a while, but it just wasn’t sticking. I had gone through the Butler’s Saint books, and still, nothing felt right. I kept badgering my husband and telling him that I NEEDED a name for the sweet little one growing within me. One night, when he had had enough of my nagging, he told me to grab the Bible, he kept perusing and mentioning different names, about 5 mins in, he said, ” Miriam” and I jumped on it! It was PERFECT! I was in love with it. We chose, Rose, as the middle name because her two sisters wanted it desperately. On Valentine’s Day, 2009, my water broke at 36 weeks. I delivered our sweet, Miriam Rose, unfortunately, she was only on this earth for 11 hours before God called her home. Her death was caused by septis, Strep Pnuemo that was not from me. She was baptized before passing, so, our sweet St. Miriam Rose has won the prize!

Next, our little Maximus Michael Patrick. He too was named with the help of a dream. We had planned on Francis, but I had a dream at 12 weeks that I was holding a little boy named Maximus, and that is how we rolled. 

Our next little one was an early miscarriage that we named Joy, we actually had already started calling the baby Joy when we found our about her/his coming.

Now, the next was our sweet, little Quintus Edmund. I was stuck on Edmund ( I loved the name AND the saint), but being that he was #5 here, and the fact I had once mentioned the name to my husband, he said it was too ironic that such a name fall on #5 (Quintus), SO….that is how we came to choose that one. 

Our next was Francis Fulton. Again, we loved the name Fulton, but since we had started the “-us” trend [for boys], we felt bound to it. 😉 Francis is a family name, one of our favorite saints, and since it’s also the name of the Holy Father, we felt it perfect. 

Evangeline Marie. For the life of me, even though she is the most recent, I can’t remember what moment or instance we received the prompting for her name. I had been wanting our next girl to be “Eden Marie”, but Evangeline Marie it was, and fitting as well, as Evangelist means, “Bearer of good news”. And being the first girl, since our Miriam Rose, her coming was definitely welcome news. 

Each child’s patron is the saint they are named after, (Francis is St. Francis of Assisi) (Evangeline, John the Evangelist).”

What beautiful names!! And such a beautiful family:

On the left: Sharon and Zeb with Gemma, Felicity, Nicodemus, Maximus, Quintus, Francis, and Evangeline. On the right: Sharon and Zeb with Miriam Rose.

Thank you to Sharon for sharing her babies’ beautiful names with us!! And with Christmas coming, please consider visiting her shop! She’s got a coupon code running right now: ZelieChristmas will get you 10% off your total purchase.

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