Compliments for Sancta Nomina (all of us!)

You all know I’ve been writing for CatholicMom.com for a couple of years, and I’ve always loved that it’s an award-winning site with a lot of amazing contributors — it’s such an honor to be a part of it! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to read that, in explaining why CatholicMom.com was awarded second place (!!!) in the Best Group or Association Blog category at the Catholic Press Association Awards ceremony in Quebec in June, evaluators noted:

This blog covered a wide range of subjects including: baby name suggestions, holiday specials, service trip information, book reviews, grief, technology, etc. There was an abundance of content, which made evaluating each article nearly impossible, but demonstrates a commitment to the blog and to providing the readers with interesting and diverse content.”

Did you notice which subject was listed first? I’m pretty sure I’m the only one writing about baby names — at least regularly — so I squealed a little with excitement when I read that!

I also wanted to share the lovely thing Abby from Appellation Mountain said about us all in her July 2 Sunday Summary:

I’m grateful for many things, but this community of namers nears the very top of my list.”

What an amazing thing to say! And I totally agree with her about you all, 100%. ❤

Great article on name spellings

A while ago I put up a tab at the top called Helpful naming tips and info — it’s a collection of posts and comments from here and elsewhere that I think are particularly helpful. I’ve been gradually adding to it as I come across things (comments, posts, articles) that I think are particular helpful regarding a particular naming issue.

I’m just about to add Abby’s post from today: Spelling Counts: 9 Rules for Spelling Baby Names. Such a great post! A few really valuable nuggets:

  • “If you’re not sure how to spell your child’s name, choose the dominant spelling … Notice I didn’t say correct spelling.”
  • “I borrowed the phrase “phonetic transparency” from NameLab years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite finds. The corporate naming group explains it this way:A phonetically transparent name is spoken-as-spelled and easily pronounced from alphabetic notation … Creative spellings work when they stay within the bounds of phonetic transparency. Which means they work best when the changes are relatively minor. I know how to pronounce Jaymee and Lauryn, even if I expect to see Jamie and Lauren … Change too much, though, and you sacrifice phonetic transparency”
  • “If there’s one hard and fast thou-shalt-not on this list, it has to this one: avoid novelty spellings … Kneena for Nina. Kviiilyn for Kaitlyn. Airwrecka for Erica”
  • “But here’s an important rule of thumb: the more creative the spelling, the less sophisticated the name appears”

As with all of Abby’s name writing, I love how she imparts hard naming truths (“the more creative the spelling, the less sophisticated the name appears”) without coming across as offensive to anyone.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on name spellings! Do you, as a rule, like or loathe creative spellings? Are there any exceptions to your own rules (i.e., if you dislike like kr8tyv-type spellings in general, are there any that you actually think are kind of clever or attractive)?

UPDATE: I just remembered I wrote this for CatholicMom ages ago: A Name by Any Other Spelling

Name thieves

Reader Anna posted a story to my Facebook wall today — one of Abby’s Name Sage posts on Nameberry that had gotten quite a bit of feedback: Baby Name Theft? Sibling rivalry over a name.

This is the issue:

I have always loved the name Josephine, called Josie or Jo. My sister likes it, too. She doesn’t have kids yet, but really wants them. To be considerate, I asked if she was okay with us using Josephine for this baby. She said it was fine.

My husband and I decided to use the name. [Their older daughter] calls her sister Josephine, and we’ve been referring to the baby by name, though we haven’t officially announced it.

Just recently, my sister told me that she’d changed her mind, and she wants to keep Josephine for herself. Now she’s not speaking to me.

We don’t want to change the name. It fits for many personal reasons, and it’s the name we both love. Yet now when I hear it, I feel frustrated and sad.”

Oof! So maddening! So unfair! So ridiculous! I’m certain all of us can understand the mama’s perspective (who’s actually pregnant, actually expecting an actual baby who actually needs an actual name in the actual near future), but I’m sure even the most laid-back among us can imagine the sister’s perspective as well. What a dilemma!

I love that the expecting parents showed consideration and asked the sister for her permission (for lack of a better word) — we did this also with one of our boys. I hate that the sister said okay, and then changed her mind after the decision was already made. I hate that the sister isn’t speaking to the mom. I hate that the once-beloved, perfect name now evokes anger, frustration, and sadness.

I posted once about naming “dibs” and included a bunch of links that I thought were useful. Given that we add the element of faith to our name discussions, I think we might all agree that relationships are, objectively, more important than names? This is something I try to keep in mind myself, though I know I’m more laid back about this particular issue than a lot of other namiacs. I also feel like we can all intellectually agree that no one owns a particular name, so the idea of “name theft” is somewhat misleading. There are also a zillion other names (and Abby had some awesome suggestions for this couple). I also don’t at all mind the idea of first cousins having the same name, and I think I would love the challenge of coming up with different nicknames.

But. I also know that this can be a hugely emotional topic (especially for emotional pregnant ladies! I’m sacrificing my body, my hormones, my sleep, and my comfort for this baby, let me have my name!), which can override any objective understandings of anything. And relationships are more important than names, but it doesn’t sound like the sister in this situation agrees, and it’s hard to have a good relationship with someone who refuses to play by loving-relationship rules, and who insists on behaving in a way that feels traitorous, petty, and selfish (and I can see how both the sister and the mama could feel this way about the other). But then we’re supposed to rise above and do the right thing regardless. Gah! What a mess.

My dibs post is almost two years old, so let’s revisit it — what are your thoughts/reactions to the Nameberry post? Any personal stories you’d like to share?

Number names 2.0

Abby at Appellation Mountain posted a piece at Nameberry today on number names (I should’ve realized that her tweets likely indicated the topic was brewing in her mind, but I didn’t even think of it) — definitely check it out, she has a lot of better ideas than mine! Numeric Baby Names: Una, Ivy and Octavia: Counting from Una to Eleven

Sancta Nomina

[I apologize to all the people waiting for an email back from me! This is the first week of school and I’m just now starting to catch my breath. Soon!]

Happy Birthday Mother Mary!! My bishop tweeted the greatest thought today: “Mary’s birth is the dawn of hope, humanity’s second chance.” A perfect thought not only for Our Lady’s birthday, but also for the Year of Mercy! ❤

Ages ago (like, back in January) Krista asked for a post about number names, and it’s been on my mind ever since. I’d had a rough idea of doing so around the first day of school — you know, ‘rithmetic and all — and then Abby at Appellation Mountain and I tweeted a bit the past few days (in response to a Haley Stewart tweet) about number names, so it’s definitely time to do this.

I was thinking of all…

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Two things

Abby at Appellation Mountain did the awesomest post last week on one of my favorite super duper Catholicky Catholic names: Cajetan! She attributes hearing the nickname Jet to me, which is so flattering because it’s so cool — I totally wish I’d thought of it! But the only ones I’d come up with were something like CJ for Cajetan Joseph, or perhaps Caj (though I did suggest the possibility of Jet for Juliet(te) and Jetta for Jacinta). Anyway, be sure to check out her post because it’s all about the saintly Cajetans! (And I’d love to know if any of you know any little Cajetans, and what they go by!)

Also, I’ve updated the Sibling Project tab to include the new John Paul info from this post. I hope you think I’ve represented all your thoughts/input well! If you have any new info to add, please add it to the comments in the original post. Thanks again!

Repeating names

Yesterday’s post about the Campos-Duffy family prompted me to look more into what people think about repeating names among siblings. If you remember, they used Pilar (one of my fave Marian names!) as a middle name for three of their girls, and Margarita as a middle for one girl and a first name for another. I’m just noticing too that they used Jack as a middle and John-Paul as a first (it’s the John connection that I’m finding interesting between them).

I think the majority opinion is that names shouldn’t be repeated? Grace (Camp Patton) once said, “Simon came up with Xavier as the middle name and I wish we’d saved that for a first name because I love that name as well.” In the Name Lady’s Can I Recycle a Middle Name post she describes it as “not an ideal situation,” though she also acknowledges that it’s not “totally out of bounds,” and “In fact, quite a few parents give in and reuse older kids’ middle names. You never know it, because they carefully avoid mentioning their children’s middle names at all.” (I would find that so hard! I love each firstname-middlename combo my hubs and I came up with for our boys — I’d hate to feel like I had to “carefully avoid mentioning their … middle names at all”!)

I know a few people who gave multiple children the same middle name — one family gave all the girls the middle name Marie, and two other families I know gave two daughters the middle name Catherine (but not all the daughters). There does seem to be a difference between giving all your children, or all your children of the same gender, the same middle name vs. only giving some children the same name and not the others.

The mumsnet thread Would you reuse a middle name as a subsequent childs first name? brought up several potential issues with reusing names — both using one child’s first name as another’s middle, and even repeating first names:

  • “many people have said to me that in the future DD1 may resent the fact that DD2 “took” part of her name. Or DD2 may resent being “named after” DD1″
  • “I personally wouldn’t do it, although the middle name we’re about to use is gorgeous and I would love to use it as first name, but I don’t want to hold it in reserve in case I don’t end up having another child to use it on!”
  • “I know a guy who is named (first name, middle name, surname) after his older brother who died from SIDS! That’s V weird!” and “I do know a boy who has the same name as his brother, who was stillborn sad and I know somebody who is pg who already have a DD but they are expecting a DS, and they are going to give him the same middle name as their DD’s middle name!”

I was particularly intrigued by the second bulletpoint — I think a lot of people might load up all their fave names at the front end of their family because of not knowing how many they’ll have of one gender — or how many kids they’ll be blessed with overall — and not wanting to miss out on using a beloved name.

Regarding the third bulletpoint, in the old days reuse of names from older deceased child to younger sibling seems to have been somewhat common. Genealogy.com says that,

Up until this century, parents could usually count on one third of their children not surviving. If a child died, the name was often used again. If a baby died, the next child of the same sex would often be given the same name. When checking birth records, you should never stop when you find the name you are looking for. You should continue for a few more years, because the first child could have died and your ancestor could have been the second child in the family with that name. If an older child died, a younger one would often be named for him or her. If you see George in the 1850 census as a six year old and then in the 1860 census as an eight year old, it may mean the first one died shortly after the 1850 census was taken.”

And we’ve seen how at least one Catholic royal family reused names with abandon, and not necessarily because of infant/child death.

I’m not sure what I think about the first bulletpoint. Probably that kids (big and little, adult and not) get in a huff about a million things that parents don’t think they will, and don’t get upset about things parents were sure they would … if I’d chosen to do this with names, my approach would probably just be to be sure to always positively talk about the choice we’d made — make a big deal about how wonderfully meaningful it was meant to be and a choice given in love — so at least if the kids hated it later, they would know it wasn’t done to upset them. And then pray for the best!

I’m also thinking that sometimes, as with one of the families I know that used Catherine as a middle name for two of their daughters, the reasons for using it were different each time — which then sort of makes it like two different names being used: one daughter was named after St. Catherine of Siena, and the other was named after Grandma Catherine. I myself would have used the name once and been pleased with the double honor, but that’s just my personal preference — I can definitely see it seeming like two different names in this scenario, even though it looks and sounds the same. It kind of ties into what Abby wrote in one of my favorite of her posts, The Secret Meaning of Names:

Some of the best names have backstories that are unique to the family in question. Mallory doesn’t mean sorrowful if your parents met in Mallory, Indiana. Then it means “small town where my parents met.” And if your parents happened to meet there because it was a dark and stormy night, and your mom had a flat tire and the repair shop was closed and your dad just happened to be in town for a meeting and suddenly, there they were nursing coffee at the Mallory Diner just one seat apart … well, then your name means “serendipity, twist of fate.””

And it ties into what I wrote in my Nameberry post Good-Intention Baby Naming: “The intention behind the bestowing of the name can be as important—or more so—than the name’s actual origin or meaning or other specifics.”

In the case of the Campos-Duffys, their repeating of names is so exuberant — one of you used the word “confident,” which was so great — that it really strikes me as not that strange at all. And the gorgeousness and saintliness of the names they chose makes me think of that royal names post — each one is sort of decadent and fabulous, really beautiful choices.

What do you all think? Would you (have you?) use one child’s middle name for another’s first name? What about other types of repeating — using the same middle name for all the children, or all one gender, or the names of lost babies (miscarried/stillborn/died when they were older) being given to younger siblings?