Sneak peek of my contribution to The Catholic Hipster Handbook!

First off, thank you all for your lovely birthday wishes!! I had a wonderful day, and discovered that Arwen‘s birthday was also yesterday! Happy birthday to her, and to all of you and your children who were born on August 23/feast of St. Rose!

Secondly, and the point of this post: the time for the release of The Catholic Hipster Handbook is drawing nigh!! It releases on September 22, but I’m pretty sure if you preorder it you’ll get it sooner than that.

You might have seen that Tommy Tighe (Mr. Catholic Hipster) gave a sneak peek of my chapter at the beginning of the month — I can’t wait for you to read the whole thing! (He was using an older draft — I’m confident that my last name will be on it when it’s published, and the typos will have been fixed. 🙏) And don’t forget all the other amazing authors who have contributed to the book, including Sister Brittany Harrison, Lisa Hendey, Arleen Spenceley, Anna Mitchell, Mary Rezac, Melissa Keating, Matt Dunn, Sarah Vabulas, Fr. Kyle Schnippel, Steven Lewis, Tiffany Walsh, Sergio Bermudez, and Leticia Ochoa Adams, and the foreword written by Jeannie Gaffigan — lots of favorites here!

And of course — the cover. I’m still dying over being in a book with him on the cover. ❤


Thanks for bearing with my shameless plug! I guarantee you won’t be disappointed to have The Catholic Hipster Handbook in your library! 😊😘

Bonus baby name consultation: Arwen’s new little guy!

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 Claire
Blaise Alexander
Linus Michael
Ambrose John

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))

I see Arwen mostly on Twitter and Instagram now, and it was on Twitter that I saw her ask, all casual-like:


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?

Baby name consultant: Saintly, different first initials, easy to spell

Caitlin and her husband are expecting their third little one, gender unknown (another green bean!). Their daughters are named:

Claire Camille
Margaret Joyce (called Maggie)

Beautiful names! Caitlin writes,

Their middle names are our paternal grandmothers’ first names. We’d like to continue that tradition, so we have the following names left to work with:


We’d like all of our children’s first names to be their patron saints. We gravitate towards classic English/Irish/Scottish names to tie in with our cultural heritage and our last name — Burch … We would like to do different first initials for everyone … And it has to be easy to spell.”

To give you a further idea of their taste, for boys Caitlin and her husband have considered:


And for girls:


Lots of names to work with! After much thinking and musing and taking to my Baby Name Wizard book for ideas, I came up with several ideas for each gender — I always shoot for three, but I had four for each that seemed so spot on to me that I couldn’t narrow it down any further:

(1) Alice
I was so excited to see that Caitlin and her husband had discussed Alice! It was the first one I had on the list I’d made for her as I was reading her email! I love Alice as a sister to Claire and Margaret/Maggie, and from their family names, I really like the idea of Pauline for Paul — Alice Pauline has such a lovely ring to it, I love it.

(2) Lydia
Lydia is one of my favorite names, and I was delighted to see it pop up in my research. I love that it looks short-ish like Claire but has the same number of syllables as Margaret. I quite like Lydia Shirley or Lydia Jacqueline or Lydia Frances (for Francis of course).

(3) Louisa (nicked Lucy?)
Both Louisa and Lucy seemed like good options for this family — luckily I don’t think they have to choose! Lucy is such a natural nickname for Louisa in my opinion. Louisa totally has the Brit feel of Claire and Margaret, and Lucy is spunky and sweet. Louisa Jacqueline? Louisa Pauline? Louisa Frances?

(4) Eleanor or Violet
Charlotte and Eleanor were names that seemed spot on as sisters for Claire and Margaret, but Charlotte repeats the C initial, and at the time I did this consultation for Caitlin I was still of the opinion that Eleanor is not a saint’s name (I’ve since revised my thinking — there’s a good argument that it can be considered to be related to Helen(a), which was on the list of names Caitlin and her husband have discussed). Both Charlotte and Eleanor pointed me to Violet, and as soon as I saw it I thought it would work well — it can be considered Marian, which is so awesome. I really like Eleanor Frances, Eleanor Pauline, Violet Shirley, Violet Pauline, and Violet Frances.

(1) Henry
Like with Alice, Henry was my #1 suggestion for Caitlin even before I read that it’s one of the names they’ve discussed! Woo! I love Henry, and it seems a smashing brother name for Claire and Margaret. I like it best as Henry William, and Henry Francis has a really nice flow to it, but it always makes me think of Betty’s second husband in Mad Men (Henry Francis). I learned recently though that I’m dating myself by being influenced by Mad Men, so maybe it’s a non issue? It’s very handsome!

(2) Samuel or Benjamin
Samuel and Sam (Sam!) are great great names and a perfect fit for a brother of Claire and Margaret/Maggie. I like Samuel Francis best, but Samuel Warren works too. And Benjamin has a similar feel to me, and is a bit closer to the feel of Claire and Margaret than is Benedict (from their list), in my opinion. Benjamin Paul is nice because Benjamin is so long and Paul so short; I like Benjamin Francis a lot too.

(3) Edward or Edmund
I love Sts. Edward the Confessor and Edmund Campion — how to choose?! Haha! They’re both British-y, and they both have really cute nickname options (Ed/Eddie, Ted/Teddy, Ned … my dad even had a friend named Edward who went by Zeb!). Edward Francis, Edward William, Edward Warren, Edmund Francis all sound great to me.

(4) Joseph
What else to say? Joseph is classic, masculine, saintly, just. Joseph Paul, Joseph William, and Joseph Warren all work well; I’m not including Joseph Francis because of the ph and F running into each other, but I don’t hate it.

Those are my ideas! What do you all think? What other ideas do you have for a brother or sister to Claire and Maggie?

Reading round-up

I’ve read a few interesting things recently, some which I’ve posted on Facebook and others I haven’t:

If you want to see a picture of Pope Francis going to Confession, check out this post (the content of the post is great too, but that picture!) (it’s the second one — scroll down) (the first pic is amazing too — he’s in the confessional ready to hear confessions): A “Jubilee of Mercy” – On 2nd Anniversary, Pope Calls Extraordinary Holy Year of “God’s Forgiveness”

Simcha posted on FB: “Confirmation saints! Did you or your kid pick someone unusual? If so, why? The more details, the better” and got a whoooole bunch of responses. I haven’t even read through them all yet, but I love the conversation!

I’m not as familiar with Latin as I’d like to be — I took two semesters of it in college, because I wanted to, which is how I was able to name this blog 🙂 — and I’ve been to too few Latin Masses to have picked up much more than just what I know from some common prayers and hymns, like Salve Regina. So I liked this, and thought some of you might find it helpful too: Latins Words or Phrases Every Catholic Should Know.

In case you missed it ( 😉 ), there’s this: How to Name a Large Family (by me!)

I mentioned before that I couldn’t wait to read all Arwen‘s posts on naming, and I did love the first one I read, on the naming of her first two: Insufferable Parental Name-Gazing (edited to add: Please don’t mis-read this as me saying I didn’t like the rest of her naming posts! What I meant was, I’ve only read that one so far, and I liked it!)

Somehow — and now I can’t remember how — I found Arwen’s mom’s blog post where she explains how she and her husband chose all their kids’ names. With a child named Arwen, you know the rest are going to be interesting, and wow — they are: Coming Clean

That’s all I got for now! Happy Saturday!