Update: No nickname? Not happening.

*Update to my post of the other day regarding my sister’s nickname woes*

My sister said it’s fine to include the particulars, as I told her a bunch of you were curious about what nickname she has and how it could be butchered so badly: She’s always gone by Betsey (that spelling appears quite a bit in my dad’s genealogy), but at work she got Becky, Betty, and Beth instead of Betsey all the time! She also reminded me of adults calling her Liz when she was small, even though she’s never gone by Liz, which people at work are also now calling her, in addition to the nickname of her last name. Whether Betsey or Elizabeth, the poor girl just can’t win!


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!

Sancta Nomina

My sister has just gone through a namey thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you all! I’ve talked quite a bit on here about how, these days, children are increasingly being given names that the parents don’t intend to nickname — a little Thomas is more likely to be Thomas always than Tom or Tommy, for example, and people in general are much less likely to assume a nickname when meeting someone or to bestow a nickname that the person hasn’t specifically said he or she goes by. To those parents who still worry that their little one might be called by a nickname, I’ve advised them to be firm and consistent in correcting people, every time.

Well. My sister’s name is Elizabeth and her whole life she’s gone by a nickname of it — my parents named her Elizabeth both for the full name and equally so because…

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No nickname? Not happening.

My sister has just gone through a namey thing that I couldn’t wait to tell you all! I’ve talked quite a bit on here about how, these days, children are increasingly being given names that the parents don’t intend to nickname — a little Thomas is more likely to be Thomas always than Tom or Tommy, for example, and people in general are much less likely to assume a nickname when meeting someone or to bestow a nickname that the person hasn’t specifically said he or she goes by. To those parents who still worry that their little one might be called by a nickname, I’ve advised them to be firm and consistent in correcting people, every time.

Well. My sister’s name is Elizabeth and her whole life she’s gone by a nickname of it — my parents named her Elizabeth both for the full name and equally so because of the chosen nickname, which is used quite a bit in our family tree. But something that’s driven her crazy as an adult is that her nickname is constantly misheard by others at work, causing her to constantly correct her coworkers and other people she interacts with in a professional setting (with varying degrees of success), so she decided to go by the full Elizabeth in her professional life, and she just started a new job, so it was the perfect time to make the change.

Since starting her job, she’s been firm and consistent about introducing herself as Elizabeth, never once letting on that she goes by a nickname. However, more than one person has said that Elizabeth is “too long” and doesn’t she go by a nickname? She tells them no, every time — that her name is Elizabeth, no nickname.

Some of her new coworkers have refused to accept this! They told her that they’re not going to call her Elizabeth, but instead are going to call her by a nickname of her last name. They’re definitely doing it in a jovial buddy-buddy kind of way, like teammates would — and her husband has cheerfully told her that nicknames like this mean she’s being accepted and that she should just go with it (“If they call you Bob, you go with it!” he said 😂😂😂) — but she’s just shaking her head over the whole thing. After all the frustration about her actual nickname being butchered all the time, and making the deliberate decision to go by her full name, only to have her new coworkers pooh-pooh that and come up with their own nickname (which, incidentally, is the same nickname her husband always goes by) … what can you do but shake your head??


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!

Fun post at Design Mom

One of you dear readers emailed me the link to yesterday’s post on Design Mom, which was so fun! I know you’ll love reading the post itself, as well as the comments — so many fun stories!: What Were You Almost Named As A Baby? (For more fun, similar stories, see my recent post on this same topic!) (Also, I actually posted about Design Mom a few years ago, and just re-read the post — it made me laugh! Also, gorrrgeous names!)


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!

Name story: Oscar Thomas

A few years ago I did a private consultation for a mama pregnant with her sixth baby — a boy she and her husband named Oscar Thomas. (Oscar Thomas! I love it so much!) She recently wrote to tell me more of the story — specifically, how the name they chose for him ended up being so perfect for him in other ways:

You helped us out over three years ago with a name for our sixth child and fourth boy, Oscar Thomas.

Anyway, I have a story to share. Our Oscar began having seizures when he was five months old, and it turns out he has some profound, lifelong disabilities. (He is making good progress and he is an amazing, dear boy; we are in a great place as a family now but getting here was rocky.) But I am telling you this because I feel like Oscar is THE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT name for him, and one we would never have considered without your nudge. It is strong and determined and a little funky, just like him.

St. Oscar Romero was beatified while I was pregnant, but not canonized until after our “storm,” when we had really found our peace with Oscar’s medical issues. We prayed for his intercession on a daily basis and felt like he walked the whole journey with us, while he waited for his own reward. I am so grateful that our little boy has this tremendously powerful friend in heaven, and I am grateful to you by extension for making the introduction. 😉 We didn’t know at the time our Oscar was born how much we were going to need someone like that.

Anyway. You popped up in my Facebook feed today and I felt prompted to let you know that the work you do matters, sometimes maybe more than you know.”

How amazing is that?? What a wonderful story!! I love her description of both the name Oscar and her boy Oscar: “strong and determined and a little funky, just like him.”

There’s more! The mama, Christy, included Oscar’s name story and some more fun details in her amazing blog post entitled What’s in a name? How our kids got their Catholic saint names and why it matters. She said everything I always want to say, and she said it so well! There’s so much I want to quote from her post, but I don’t want to discourage you from going to read it in its entirety. Seriously, you’ll love it.

Thank you to Christy for sharing all this wonderful information!

Celebrity guest: Amy, mom of 11!

Don’t forget to enter the Mother’s Day giveaway I announced at the end of my previous post! You have until midnight (Eastern) on Saturday (May 19) to email me your entry. And if you haven’t listened to my interview on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary on Mater Dei Radio, you still can!

I’ve followed Amy Laddbush on Instagram for a while, and as I told her, I just love seeing the joy that comes through the pictures of life with her six boys (like me) … and five girls! (Not like me! Wow!) Yes, ELEVEN children! And they all have amazing names too! Though I’d picked up some of their names here and there through various posts, it wasn’t until I read this article about her and her family that I was able to see them all. Ever since then I’ve wanted to contact Amy to see if she would mind telling me about the namesof her kiddos so I could share with you all here, and I’m so glad I finally did! I know you’re going to love reading this. 🙂 ❤

laddbush_family
Photo credit: Annie Norton

Our oldest, Ray, is 20. His full name is Ray Tucker Shourds Laddbush. We had him when we were young. We were both 20 when I was pregnant, and 21 when he was born. I remember I had a baby name book that we looked through. After finding out we were having a boy, I wrote down all of my top boy names in the book. I let Ryan pick out of those choices. Ray is a family name, my great grandfather was named Ray — not Raymond. I let Ryan pick the middle name Tucker. He liked that name a lot, and I thought it was cute. Shourds is my maiden name. Because we were unmarried at the time, at birth, I named him Ray Tucker Laddbush Shourds. After we were married less than a year later, we had his name legally changed to Ray Tucker Shourds Laddbush. (Confirmation name St. Padre Pio).

Josie is 17. Her full name is Josie Layne Laddbush. We liked the name Josie from the song “Josie” by Steely Dan. Layne was just something cute we came up with. I don’t know why we spelled it that way! Like Ray, it’s just Josie — not Josephine. (Confirmation name St. Joan of Arc).

After Josie is our daughter, Brady Ann. She is 14. I liked the meaning of Brady because it means “spirited”. She was very active in the womb. She is still a very active young lady. The name suits her, even though it is predominately male. Ann is a middle name/family name on Ryan’s side of the family that we thought sounded cute. (Confirmation name St. Patrick).

Next is Sean Patrick Whetzell, age 12. I liked Sean because it was the Irish form of John. Patrick just had to go with a Sean. Whetzell is my husband’s second middle name (he is Ryan Francis Whetzell Laddbush). We wanted to pass down the Whetzell name which is Ryan’s grandfather’s last name. He has 3 daughters (one being Ryan’s mom), and Ryan was the only grandson in the whole family. This was a nod keeping with the theme of the men/boys having 4 names (2 middle names). Also keeping with somewhat of a theme of having last names as middle and first names! (like Brady).

Next is Evan Matthew, age 10. At this point we decided 2 names was enough. I liked the name Evan, I can’t remember why, and Matthew is my brother’s middle name. I thought it sounded good so we went with it.

After Evan is Bennett Francis, age 9. He was supposed to be Francis Bennett. Francis after Ryan’s middle name and I don’t know where we got Bennett, but we liked it. After he was born, I thought he looked more like a Bennett, so Bennett Francis it is.

Number 7 is Mary Catherine, age 8. Mary is named after Ryan’s grandmother Mary Laddbush and Catherine is his other grandmother Catherine Whetzell. Easy peasy. At this point we realized I guess we are one of those big Catholic families, so we had better have a Mary.

Number 8 is Finnian Fritz, age 6. We call him Finn. Ryan came up with Finnian after researching saint names and found a St. Finnian. Fritz is named after Ryan’s grandfather, George, nicknamed Fritz.

Number 9 is Charlotte Jones, age 5. I don’t know how we got Charlotte, but we loved it. Jones is my grandmother’s maiden name. We thought we would call her Charlie Jones, or CJ, or something cool like that. Somehow she got the nickname Kitty and we’ve been calling her that since she was a baby. We try to call her Charlotte but she likes the name Kitty.

Number 10 is Sloane Stewart (Mary), age 3. I remember being pregnant and watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and hearing the name Sloane. I thought it was a cool name. Stewart is named after Ryan’s grandmother’s maiden name. Her name on her birth certificate is Sloane Stewart. When she got baptized, our associate pastor at the time, Fr. Lewis, asked if he could throw a Mary in there, so we said sure. Her baptismal name is Sloane Stewart Mary.

And finally number 11 is John Paul Nicholas, age 2. When I was pregnant with him, I read the book Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves. Saint John Paul became my best friend after that, so I had to honor him by naming my son after him. The December before he was born, there was a tragic car accident involving in my cousin’s best friend’s death. His name was Nicholas Cassidy (Nick). He was only 22. Also at this point we had a family devotion to St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately we have not been able to get pregnant since John Paul. We will be 42 this summer, it’s been a good ride. If we are blessed with another baby, I like the name Karol Józef, named after my good friend, Karol Józef Wojtyła.”

How wonderful is all this?? There’s so much here that I love! I love how Amy and her hubs just chose names they loved, I love what an eclectic bunch of names they used, and how many family names are woven into the first+middle combos. I love that they were like, “At this point we realized I guess we are one of those big Catholic families, so we had better have a Mary.” I love that Finn’s middle name is “after Ryan’s grandfather, George, nicknamed Fritz” (I love those kinds of name stories! I’d love to know how George came to be known as Fritz!) and that Charlotte has always gone by Kitty (and prefers it). I love that Sloane has Mary added on her baptismal certificate. And of course, I love that St. John Paul II is Amy’s “best friend.” ((sighing with happiness))

Thank you to Amy for such a lovely, intimate look at her beautiful children’s names!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Another St. Gerard story!

I had a little mix-up with the Monday consultation post schedule, so I’m posting this wonderful story instead, which I’d originally planned to post tomorrow.

Alissa shared this awesome story with me:

Hi Kate! I am a longtime reader and wanted to send you my St. Gerard story after seeing your call for St. Gerard stories a few days ago!

After trying to conceive our second for about 8 months including a miscarriage, I had a friend at Church recommend praying a Novena to St. Gerard. I honestly felt silly I had never thought of doing this since I’ve had a devotion to him since my first pregnancy, 3 years earlier. So, my husband and I along with my friend who recommended the Novena started the novena that same day. On the day after the Novena ended, I found out I was pregnant! Fast forward 9 months at the end of my pregnancy, I left my 39 week appointment with orders to head to the hospital for delivery that afternoon due to raising blood pressure. Since I was c-section, I was unable to eat from that point through my surgery, so my husband and I decided to go hang out at our local Church and pray a while. While we were sitting there, discussing possible names for the baby, I realized I hadn’t checked to see whose feast day it was. I was utterly speechless when I saw … October 16 … St. Gerard! WOW! God is so good!! Our sweet Gianna Malin (4th generation with Malin as a middle name!) was born that evening and is now a feisty 4 year old.

Thanks for letting me share that story. What sweet memories it brings! St. Gerard, pray for us!

How cool is that?? I love hearing these St. Gerard stories! Thanks to Alissa for sharing this, and please feel free to send me any of your St. Gerard stories!

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Gianna Malin, thanks to St. Gerard’s intercession and born on his feast day ❤

Name story: Caspian and Eliot

Today’s Name Story is about Shaina’s little guys! She writes,

Our first son we named Caspian Isaiah. I told my husband while we were dating that I loved the name Caspian and wanted to use it for a son someday! We are both big Lewis fans, and he played an important role in my grandfather’s faith walk when he went through a period of agnosticism. Well.. about nine months after our wedding, Caspian made his debut! We picked Isaiah because we wanted a Bible name and we loved the way it sounded with the first and last name. Our girl name (we haven’t found out gender before birth so far) was Melanie Rowena. I felt a little silly naming our baby Caspian…because really, who does that? But the slight weirdness wore off quickly and it fits him perfectly.

During my second pregnancy, my husband and I went back and forth on a boy name. I love the name Eliot and he didn’t. But I kept coming back to it and eventually he said we could use it as long as we spelled it his way. Agreed! We chose the middle name James. Our girl name for him was Aida Christine. We both love the sound of Aida and were having a really hard time finding a saint name we liked to go with it, but apparently there are several St Christinas and Christine is a family name on my husband’s side. When our son was born, he reminded us both so much of my side of the family and my father specifically that we gave him my dad’s name too, so he ended up Lane Eliot James. We mainly call him Eliot still. And Ee-ot! haha.”

Caspian and Eliot!! Looooovvvveeeeeee!! ❤ ❤ ❤ Shaina said that “finding a name that does go with Caspian without being total geeks is a difficult balance,” but I think they did an amazing job with Eliot!

Shaina wrote, “We became Catholic shortly after Eliot was born, so I’ve been enjoying diving into your blog and discovering a different motivation behind naming,” which makes me so so happy that I can help in this small way! And also — she shared her list of names for future babies! (She was very clear though that these aren’t necessarily husband-approved! 😀 ) Check these out:

John Michael Loren. (call name Loren. I love the name John but we have four of them in the family already. And love that Loren is less common.) John for our both our mentor and my husband’s confirmation names. And so many St Johns. Michael after my husband, and St Michael. And Loren after my husband’s grandfather.

Vivienne Cypress. just love it. the end. (well, and there’s a hymn written by a friend dear to our hearts from the scripture “how like a cypress evergreen”

William Wise

Lewis Martin. Lewis and Martin are both family names. And L M is my MIL’s initials.

Illa Anne-Marie. Illa is my husband’s grandmother’s name. And I dunno, I just like the way Anne-Marie goes with it.

Sebastian Philip. After Bach! And St Sebastian. And Philip after my husband’s friend.”

So many unexpected names! I LOVE unexpected names! I love that they’d call John Michael Loren by his second middle, WOW! Vivienne Cypress! Cypress! What a cool middle name! Same with Wise! I love William Wise! And Illa! Can you tell I’m all heart eyes over these interesting picks?! I love Lewis Martin and Sebastian Philip as well. Such a cool list!

Thank you to Shaina for sharing all of this with us! Here are her handsome little guys:

Caspian and Eliot