You guys! It’s Thursday! And because you’re all so dear to me, I’m delighted to post a bonus consultation for this week!
I am SO EXCITED to do a consultation for Arwen of the blog abc family, formerly known as arwen/elizabeth — she’s been writing online at her blog and at the old Faith and Family Live since 2004 and I’ve been familiar with her most of that time — that’s a long [virtual, one-sided] relationship y’all! 😀 She’s expecting her fifth baby, and her fourth boy!
I think she might have been the first person I knew of who actually used Blaise for her actual son (rather than just listing it on fantasy baby name lists), and I remember getting all swoony and twinkly-eyed over his name when I first read her older two’s names (it’s been a lifelong affliction, my love of names).
And then the Catholic internets were all atwitter when she was expecting twins — little boys who will be five next month and I.can’t.believe. it’s been that long. !!
Here are her amazingly named older children:
Camilla is just lovely, Blaise is awesome, and Linus and Ambrose! Like Blaise, I hadn’t ever heard of Linus on a real-life boy, and the only other Ambrose I knew of was Danielle Bean’s — Arwen’s naming was a revelation for me! I love her taste so much that I blogged about her a year ago, and on another occasion linked to this post she did on the naming of her two oldest (and discovered that her parents had equally amazing taste, as shown in this post written by her mom). ((sighs of happiness all around))
As if such a tweet wouldn’t make me start hyperventilating with excitement. So I tweeted back in a really restrained and professional manner, and she responded (!):
Which of course you know totally made my day (as did this little response to Arwen’s request, from our Mrs. Patton, no big deal:
Arwen’s currently on modified bed rest because of contractions that are too strong too soon, but she says she’s cautiously optimistic that she can make it to term (she’s 25 weeks now), which makes me extra happy to post this consultation for her because they’re such fun, aren’t they? A great distraction for a pregnant mama. ❤
I asked her about her naming hopes and dreams, and she wrote,
“Okay, so our last name is Mosher (you probably know that) and is pronounced MOE-zhur … I am not at ALL worried about middle names — those are easy for me and I have no attachment to any particular ones. I just pick a saint name that flows with the first name (and you’ve probably noticed that for our boys we’ve used very common middle names to sort of “balance” the unusual first names) and Bryan cares not at all about middle names, so I’m confident that if we find the right first name we’ll be set.
We actually have ZERO boy names on the list so far — Linus and Ambrose were left over from naming Blaise, and they made such an obvious (to us) set of twin names that we used them both and now we’re out.
Here are our basic naming requirements/preferences:
1) It must be a saint name. (Requirement)
2) It would be nice to have an early saint, since all our other boys are named after early saints. (Mild preference)
3) It should be roughly the same popularity/commonness level as our other boys’ names, which I don’t define by any particular number on the SSA charts but by a general familiarity level: I like that almost everyone has *heard* of our boys’ names, but doesn’t usually know more than one other person with the name. (Non-Catholics don’t tend to know anyone, but we know another family with a Blaise, one with an Ambrose, and one with a Linus.) (Strong preference)
4) It should not start with C, B, L, or A, since I would like our kids to have their own first initials. (Fairly strong preference, but I would forgo this one for the perfect name)
5) The name should be reasonably intuitive to pronounce based on its spelling. Even though our boys’ names are unusual, I think we achieved this with them; Camilla’s name gets mispronounced more often than all of theirs put together. This is the main reason why I’ve never put the name Mathias/Matthias on our list even though I like it and it’s a style match — I feel like it’s not obvious whether it’s pronounced with a hard T or a TH sound and that bothers me. (Fairly strong preference)
We have no family names or favorite saints in mind, and I can’t think of any other similar names that we’ve ruled out for reasons not on this list. The only thing I can think of is that a couple people have suggested Pascal, which I rejected immediately because I can’t have brothers named Blaise and Pascal — too much. But as long as there’s not something obvious like that, no problem.
I hope this gives you a good place to start! I am due July 16th but tend to go early, so I’m hoping for birth no earlier than mid-June but would like to have the name nailed down before that … We tend to be kind of aggressive about hunting down names, but this is the first time we’ve been at a total loss for ideas, so I’m guessing it will take us longer than normal.”
As you all know, I love rules! Not only does it make for a really fun challenge, but it gives me a really good, really clear idea of what the parents are looking for. I especially really liked Arwen’s idea about popularity/commonness—a fact that she doesn’t “define by any particular number on the SSA charts but by a general familiarity level”—I feel like that’s something I can bring to the table that the Baby Name Wizard can’t, for example. The BNW‘s always really helpful, but a bit less so in cases like this one, because it relies heavily on SSA stats and tends to have little sense of Catholicky Catholic naming trends. (For example, Kateri’s always the one that comes to mind for me—in the BNW all the style matches are Native American names! While all the Kateris I know of in real life — a good few! — have siblings like Leo, Jude, Xavier, Regina, Rosemary, and Jane.)
So I should back up and explain for any new readers, I almost always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already used and the ones they like as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did start here with the BNW, but I also rifled through my mental files and info I’ve learned on the blog and came up with seven *amazing* ideas! 😀 I should also mention that I didn’t look at the suggestions from Arwen’s Twitter followers on purpose — I wanted to have a clear, open mind when working on this for her. But it’s quite likely I’m repeating ideas others have mentioned, so — kudos to you all!
(1) Joachim (d. first century or earlier)f
Okay, if Arwen and Bryan hate this idea I get it—I’ve been pushing Joachim on people forever, including my own husband, and nobody’s yet bitten! But he’s definitely an early saint (though if they think he feels too recent, I understand that too, since I don’t think devotion to St. Joachim arose until around 1000?), and I think most Catholics are familiar with the name, although—and this is probably the other reason they might hate it, a la Mat(t)hias—a lot of people don’t know how to pronounce it. I’ve always heard it said JO-ah-kim, and it seems that’s the basic English pronunciation, and all other pronunciations are foreign or influenced by non-English speakers. So there’s that. If I could ever convince my hubs, we’d use the nickname Jake, which totally makes it user friendly.
(2) Justin (d. 165)
I love love love Justin for this family. St. Justin Martyr! He’s totally the right time period, the right first initial, and everyone knows the name even though not many babies are being named it currently. That being said, Monday’s consultation was for the little sister of a Justin! For Justin Martyr! And I love seeing it! But if Arwen and Bryan think it’s too time-stamped, I get it. Boo. 😦
(3) Damian (d. 303) or Damien (d. 1889)
Sts. Damian and Cosmas are also the right time period for what they’re looking for, and I’ve long loved the name Damian. The spelling Damien loses the time period, as St. Damien de Veuster becomes the patron (unless they just want to think of it as a variant of St. Damian, and that’s cool and legit too), but Damien is the French spelling, which really goes along with Camilla and Blaise. Unfortunately, they’ll definitely want to be sure they weigh whether or not The Omen connection is too much though (my hubs won’t consider because of that movie, which is like 40 years old and he’s never seen!).
(4) Ignatius (d. 107)
I’m really feeling Ignatius for this baby. St. Ignatius of Antioch is the right time period; I think the pronunciation is fairly intuitive; he’s known by Catholics but the name’s not used a whole lot; and I love the nickname options of Iggy, Nate, and Nash. Also Cate Blanchett named one of her sons Ignatius! That’s pretty cool.
(5) Thaddeus (d. first century or 1653)
Linus is the only of the other Mosher kiddos to have a biblical name, so I kind of like adding another one in. Thaddeus is familiar and I think Jude’s used more than Thaddeus among Catholic (and non-Catholic) families, so they’d get the benefit of a popular and beloved saint without the popular-name baggage. They could also look to later holy Thaddeuses—I particularly love Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, an Irish Dominican martyr.
(6) Sebastian (d. 288)
I’m guessing this might be too popular for Arwen and Bryan—a lot of Catholic parents love Sebastian! But for good reason! My boys looooove the pics of him with the arrows sticking out of him, and even my grown-up brother loves that he’s the patron saint of athletes. Seb(by) and Bash are really cute nicknames.
(7) Raphael (Old Testament)
Raphael’s another of those names that’s really known but not used too much. I guess there’s a pronunciation issue as well—I prefer RAY-fee-ul, but most people I personally know say rah-fay-EL (I’d be interested in how you all say it — am I in a weird pronunciation pocket? Or is rah-fay-EL pretty standard?). Otherwise, I think it would be so great for this baby!
(8) Clement (d. ~88)
Finally, Clement, and I know I’m totally breaking one of Arwen’s rules here (no repeating initials), but you all know I’ve been loving and pushing the Mercy names since it’s the Year of Mercy and Clement means merciful and it would be so meaningful for a baby born this Jubilee Year! He was also the same time period as Arwen’s other boys, and is papal like Linus! (Also, as a related option, I’m totally loving the combo Justin Clement. Just sayin. 🙂 )
And those are my ideas for Little Mr. Mosher! What do you all think? What would you suggest as a little brother to Camilla, Blaise, Linus, and Ambrose that follows all (or most) of the rules?