Baby name consultation: Baby no. 8 needs a name in the established theme

(I just wanted to let you all know that yesterday’s book signing was such a wonderful event! My editor and a videographer from Marian Press came to interview me on camera and take some photos — once they’re available I’ll be sure to share them! In the meantime, here are two I shared on Instagram:

Such an awesome display as you first walked into the shop! My dear friend Jan, who owns my local Catholic shop, The Giver of Life Gift Shoppe, had it all set up for me and the bebe to stay nice and cool while chatting with customers and signing books. ❤ You can buy my book on The Giver of Life Gift Shoppe’s web site, if you’d like to support their efforts.)

I’ve had the great privilege of posting two consultations (here and here) and two birth announcements (here and here) for today’s family since I started the blog — so fun to be able to do another consultation for this growing family!

Josh and Mari are expecting their eighth baby — their third boy! He joins big sibs:

Ariana Camille
Audrey Caroline
Caleb Daniel
Amelia Clare (“Millie”)
Anne-Catherine Gianna (“Gianna” or “Gigi”)
Charles Michael (“Charlie”)
Anessa Corinne

I just love all the names they’ve chosen, such a handsomely named bunch of kids!

Josh writes,

As we’ve discussed before, we have an A-C theme going with our girls, and the boys have C first names with family middle names (Caleb Daniel with my middle name, Charles Michael with Mari’s brother’s middle name).

We also like to pick names with a saintly connection in the birth month, although this is not a requirement.

Some thoughts we’ve had, some of which we previously considered with Charles:

First:
Christopher
Christian
Clement
Kolbe

Middle:
Gabriel
Emmanuel

Our kids have expressed a liking for Christian Gabriel, which we also like, but want to think on it.”

Of course I love the names they’re considering — Christopher and Christian are both great names for a Christmastime baby, and Christian Gabriel is an amazing combination, I really really like it. I also love that they’re considering Emmanuel for a middle name — not only does it follow the middle name theme they have with their other boys (and Gabriel) in that it ends in -el, but it’s obviously very Christmasy as well. Josh said they’d like to have a connection to a saint in the month of birth if possible, but with the month being December, it would be so neat to have a Christmas connection as well! (There’s also a St. Christian of Perugia with a feast day on Dec. 1.)

Clement and Kolbe are both wonderful also, and there are two Sts. Clement with feasts during December that I could find: St. Clement of Alexandria on Dec. 4 and St. Clemente Marchisio on Dec. 16. I know that St. Maximilian Kolbe’s feast is in August, but something like Kolbe Emmanuel would tie into December/Christmas nicely.

Since they have an ends-in-el theme going with their boys’ middle names, and they’ve already used Daniel and Michael and are considering Gabriel and Emmanuel, I just wanted to add the following to their list for the future, in case they’re helpful:

  • Samuel
  • Nathaniel
  • Raphael
  • Joel
  • Axel
  • Abel
  • Ezekiel
  • Reuel (like Tolkien — his name was John Ronald Reuel [J.R.R.] Tolkien)
  • Noel (for another Christmas option)

I know they’ve drawn from family names for their older boys’ middle names, so maybe ends-in-el isn’t something they care about continuing, but I thought it might be helpful to offer these ideas anyway.

In terms of first names, I turned to the Baby Name Wizard, as I always do, looking up all their older kiddos’ names and the names they’re considering to see if there are any other C names that are similar to their style. Then I went to CatholicSaints.info, and looked up each day in December to see which saints have December feast days, looking for those that begin with C. Based on all that, these are my additional suggestions for this family beyond their already excellent list of Christopher, Christian, Clement, and Kolbe:

(1) Cassian
I really like the name Cassian and the nickname Cash, so cool! St. Cassian of Rome’s feast day is Dec. 1, and St. Cassian of Tangiers’ feast is Dec. 3.

(2) Colman
I like Colman since it’s got that same “kole” beginning sound as Kolbe, but begins with a C. St. Colman of Clonard and St. Colman of Glendalough both celebrate their feasts on Dec. 12.

(3) Cormac
Cormac’s an Irish name like Colman, and St. Cormac celebrates his feast day on the same day as the Sts. Colman mentioned above (Dec. 12)! I like that Cormac allows for the nickname Mac.

(4) Cyril
I’m not sure if going with a soft C sound is something Josh and Mari would like to consider, and there aren’t any Cyrils with feast days during December, but I wrote an article on names drawn from the O Antiphons — the antiphons said during Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours in the week before Christmas — and one of the names I included was Cyril, as it means “Lord,” which connects with the O Adonai (O Lord) antiphon.

(5) Colin or Cole
Both Colin and Cole can be nicknames for or variants of Nicholas — a pretty sneaky-cool way of honoring St. Nicholas (feast: Dec. 6) with a C name!

(6) Cooper (Cupertino?)
This is 100% inspired by my research in the BNW — I didn’t find the BNW to be terribly helpful for this family, but I did like the idea of Cooper, which is a style match for Colby (Kolbe doesn’t have its own entry, and I thought the matches for Colby could be helpful). I’ve seen at least two devout families use Cooper — one as a given name, and one as a nickname for Cupertino, both in honor of St. Joseph of Cupertino. I thought that was such a neat and unexpected idea! Since it doesn’t have a connection to December, the December connection could come through the middle name, like Cupertino Noel or Cooper Emmanuel.

Those are my new ideas for Josh and Mari’s little boy, but I wanted to repeat some from past consultations as well, specifically:

  • Conrad: St. Conrad of Offida’s feast day is Dec. 12.
  • Casper: Casper’s traditionally assigned to one of the Three Wise Men (or its variants Jasper and Gaspar, depending on where you’re looking), and the Wise Men’s feast is January 6 — this might be a good option if the baby is overdue and comes in early January. Even if the baby comes in December, if they liked the idea of a Christmas name, Casper might still suit, since their feast is during the season of Christmas (which ends on the feast of the Epiphany, which was Jan. 6 in the old calendar but has since changed in many places to the Sunday following, I believe.)

Speaking of early January, I also looked up the feast days through Jan. 6, just in case the baby comes past his due date, and would add that Sts. Colman mac Ronan and Colman Muillin of Derrykeighan also have their feast on Jan. 1.

There were also a few C names for saints in December that I didn’t think were really their style, but I thought I’d list them here just in case:

  • St. Crispin of Africa, Dec. 3
  • St. Cyran of Brenne, Dec. 4
  • St. Cyprian of Perigueux, Dec. 9 (I kind of like Cyprian actually …)
  • St. Peter Canisius, Dec. 21 (maybe Canisius as a first name?)

And those are all my thoughts/ideas/suggestions for Josh and Mari’s little guy! What do you all think? What other ideas would you offer them?


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. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

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Birth announcement: Clare Cecilia!

Be sure to enter the blogiversary giveaway I posted about on Tuesday!

I posted a consultation for Joanne and her husband back in April, in which they needed help with girl names for their green bean 🌱 (they were all set with boy names), and specifically they preferred longer names to shorter. Joanne has let me know their little one has arrived — a GIRL! — and she’s been given the gorgeous (and short!) name … Clare Cecilia!

Joanne writes,

Kate – Just wanted to let you know that our green bean turned out to be pink.

Clare Cecilia was born last weekend.

I’m still a bit surprised that we have a single syllable named but her middle name definitely makes up for it. We picked this name last year and I know several babies this year named Clare or Claire so she’ll be in good company it seems. Thanks for your suggestions and we’ll certainly be keeping those in our back pocket for any future siblings.”

What a beautiful combo Clare Cecilia is!! And I love how well it fits in with her big siblings, all of whom have matching first+middle initials:

Elizabeth Esther
Rebekah Rachel
Monica Magdalene
Andrew Athanasius

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Clare!! Be sure to hop on over to Joanne’s blog Our Amazing, Beautiful, Crazy Life to read her birth story and see more pictures of her sweet little face!

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Clare Cecilia

Birth announcement: Verity Ann!

Be sure to enter the blogiversary giveaway I posted about yesterday!

I helped Allison out with some thoughts for boy names before her baby was born, but she ended up having a girl! She and her husband named her … Verity Ann!

Allison writes,

We can punt our boy name dilemma another couple of years 😉 … What if it’s a girl next?! I will need an official consult from you and your readers on what to do with all these V names … lol.”

I love love love the combo Verity Ann!! And indeed they love their V names — check out her big sibs’ gorgeous combos:

Blaise Vincent
Victoria Beatrice
Vivian Marie

I’m loving the idea of doing a V name consultation in a couple years — sounds like fun! 😉😍

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Verity!! (Who’s not such a baby anymore! We all know how fast those baby months go!)

IMG_5860

Verity Ann

Baby name consultation: Traditional/theological/biblical/long-ish girl name needed

Joanne and her husband are expecting their fifth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 He or she will join big sibs:

Elizabeth Esther
Rebekah Rachel
Monica Magdalene
Andrew Athanasius

I love each name anyway, but so cool that each first+middle combo has the same first letter!

Joanne writes,

I love patterns hence the double first and middle initials for each kid because i knew I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of names that start with the same letter like the Duggars. My husband was on board plus his dad was an RRK — he died in a plane crash when my husband was 13. My husband is open to lots of names but very opinionated about some. He prefers longer names with more than one syllable. He does pool construction by day and a deacon by weekend. He took the name Joseph when he was ordained which was also his confirmation name. He likes more traditional/theological/biblical names.

There are 1001 excellent boy names that we can mix and match:

Dominic/Daniel/Damien
Jeremiah/Justin/Joseph/Jacob/James/Jonah
Paul/Philip/Peter/Patrick
Michael/Matthew/Mark/Matthias
Nikolas/Nathaniel/Noah

We are pretty good with boy names but girl names are another story. I really like Gianna — (pronounced Gee-ana (like from Frozen) — not John-a) but my husband HATES it. We both like Hannah but Hannah Montana and other news stories involving Hannah are the first thing to come to mind — not out, just not a front runner. Lucy is excellent but too short — just like I think Luke would likely be out on the boy side. Sophia is a great one but it is super popular but it is Greek we are Ukrainian Catholic so that checks a Eastern Catholic box. That being said, we are open to alternative spellings Rebekah — if we had a Nikolas it’d be spelled with a K. I like Ivan for John. I don’t know I think I’m rambling because I love talking names.”

(Sing it, sister! 😀 )

[Their last name begins with a K so] all K names are out and I don’t think we want to repeat any EEK, RRK and MMK for girls — so we’d be open to a Matthew but not a Rose.

Okay I think that pretty much does it.

I cannot wait to read what you come up with!

I love working with “rules”! But before I get into it, I just have a few thoughts about the names on Joanne’s current list:

Their boy names are awesome. Lots of my personal faves in there, like Dominic, Damien, Jeremiah, Philip, Matthias, and Nathaniel. The others are great too! Solid, handsome, traditional. Great list!

I’m sorry her husband doesn’t like Gianna, as it’s a gorgeous name and an awesome saint, but it does seem a different style than their older girls. I wonder if he would be open to considering it in the middle name spot? Grace Gianna for example? If they were open to repeating sounds rather than initials, maybe something like Josephine Gianna?

Hannah’s beautiful, and I’m so sorry secular Hannahs are bothering them! For what it’s worth, Hannah Montana wouldn’t be my first association at all, and I have several friends who have used Hannah in recent years. Hannah Helene has a really pretty sound together. Or Hannah Hildegard! Wowww I LOVE that idea!!

And Lucy! I love Lucy! Now. If Lucy and Luke are too short, then they must cross off all four-letter names from their list, like Paul, Mark, and Noah. Also the other one-syllable names, like James. And the other two-syllable names, like Justin, Joseph, Jacob, Jonah, Philip, Peter, Patrick, Michael, and Matthew. And the Andrew they’ve already used! All this to say, of course, that I don’t think Lucy’s too short at all!! I think Noah’s actually a good parallel for it — a four-letter two-syllable name — and if they’re okay with Noah, then there’s nothing wrong with Lucy! It’s so sweet and wonderful — in fact, Joanne said it herself: it’s “excellent.” Lucy Lillian? Lucy Lourdes? Maybe a longer middle name would help them feel like it’s balanced better? Lucy Lillianna or Lucy Larissa/Larysa (I love this one because of the Ukrainian connection) or Lucy Lavender (joking! Sort of … it’s cute!) or Lucy Ludmila (not really joking! I spotlighted Ludmila here, she’d make a great patron!) or Lucy Liviana … there aren’t a huge amount of long L- names, but those there are would be fun to pair with a shorter more “normal” name like Lucy.

I wonder if they might be open to considering Lucia or Lucille as the given name and use Lucy as the nickname? I’ve also often thought that Lucy makes a natural nickname for Louisa, so that’s another possibility.

(Also, I do agree that Luke’s not a great fit for them, not because of length but because of the ending -k sound in Luke running into the beginning K- of their last name.)

Sophia’s also lovely and yes, super duper popular. Maybe a name like Sophronia or Seraphina/Serafina would appeal to them instead? Sophie could even be a nickname for them (more of a stretch for Seraphina, but doable I think if they really wanted it). And Josephine! I definitely think Sophie can be a nickname for Josephine! I’m dreaming of Josephine Juliet nicknamed Sophie. Ohhh my! 😀

Okay, now this isn’t a serious suggestion (unless Joanne and her hubs love it! Then it totally is!) but I was remembering a consultation I did for an Eastern Orthodox family, which meant no names of saints canonized after 1054 (unless they were also the names of saints canonized before then), unless the name could be connected to an Orthodox name via meaning — the example the mom gave was Claire (meaning “clear, bright”) for Photini (meaning “light”) — and I was thinking of biblical women because Joanne and her hubs seem to like those names, and had the idea of … Phoebe Photini!! I love it in the sense that it’s meaningful and biblical and SO clever that not only do they start with the same letter and sound, but they both start with the same consonant cluster! But I assume Joanne and/or her hubs would think it was a little much. But maybe not! Maybe they’ll love it! If so then I’ll continue to pat myself on the back! 😀

(If they like either Phoebe or Photini but not together, Philippa’s another Ph- name I love, and Philippine for St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. And actually, when I was looking it up, I saw that Filippa’s the Greek variant — that’s pretty! I’m imagining Frances Filippa, Filippa Fleur, Filippa Faith, Filippa Flannery if they’re into Flannery O’Connor … I could do this all day! Haha! I love same-initial combos, so fun! And Filippa’s making me think of Felicity, which is also gorgeous and could pair nicely with all these middle name ideas, and I see the Polish version is Felicyta, which is a pretty awesome Eastern variant.)

Alright, so I’ve suggested a bunch of new first name options already — Grace, Josephine, Lucia/Lucille, Sophronia, Seraphina/Serafina, Phoebe, Philippa/Filippa, Felicity/Felicyta — which had more to do with my train of thought than any actual research into Joanne and her hubs’ taste in names, but I did that too — as you all know I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Grace and Josephine actually *were* style matches for this family according to the BNW, with Grace being a style match for Hannah and Gracie for Lucy, and Josephine a match for Elizabeth. I have a few other ideas for them based on that research as well:

(1) Susanna(h)
Joanne likes Gianna and Hannah, which says to me that she likes the -anna sound (whether said AH-na, like Frozen, or AN-na). I considered suggesting Anna, since it’s the same name as Hannah and retains almost all the same sounds and loses the Hannah Montana association, but then I thought it might be too much with Andrew starting with the same AN- sound. But then Susanna(h) seemed perfect — sort of like a combo of Gianna and Hannah, in the sense that, like Gianna, it’s got Anna in it but it’s not actually an Anna name (i.e., it’s not linguistically related to Hannah/Anna), and like Hannah, it’s a biblical name. If they spelled it Susannah, they’d really bring out the biblical, and it has a closer tie to Hannah as well; if they spelled it Susanna, it has more of a saintly feel, as in St. Susanna of Rome and a whole bunch of others. Maybe Susanna(h) Sophia?

(I was going to suggest Anastasia and Anya as well, but I thought they both were too similar to Andrew’s sound … but maybe not?)

(2) Gemma
Gemma’s a style match for Gianna, and has such a similar sound that I think Joanne would like, and it’s less obviously ethnic, so maybe her husband will like it as well? Gemma Grace is gorgous, or Gemma Josephine if they prefer the same sound.

(3) Lydia
Lydia might be a nice alternative to Lucy — it’s biblical and a bit longer with a lovely appearance and sound. Lydia in the bible sold purple cloth, so the name also comes with its very own color! I love the idea of something like Lydia Lucille.

(4) Abigail
Abigail was a style match for several of the names they like: Rebekah, Rachel, Andrew, and Hannah! Though it starts with the same letter as Andrew, it’s got a much different sound (not like Anna), so I think it would be a great pick for them. Maybe something like Abigail Anastasia, to get an Eastern saint in there?

(5) Natalia (or Nataliya)
Natalia’s one of my favorites, such a pretty name! It’s a style match for Ivan and Dominic and can be spelled Nataliya to make its Eastern sensibility even more obvious. Maybe Natalia Naomi?

And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What girl name(s) would you suggest?

Baby name consultation: Heather from the Go Forth podcast! (Continue long+short or not?)

Happy first day of spring! Woo!! 💐🌸🏵🌹🌺🌻🌷💐🌸🏵🌹🌺🌻🌷

I shared in my interview with Jenny Uebbing that I was excited at my upcoming appearance on the Go Forth with Heather and Becky podcast — it’s going to air tomorrow! I’ll post the link here once I have it, and in the meantime, one of the things we discussed was name ideas for Heather’s third baby — a little girl! I’m delighted to post here the consultation I did for her in anticipation of the podcast being aired, so you all can read about her name situation and weigh in with your own ideas, which she’s excited to read!

This baby girl will join big sibs:

Elizabeth Ann (“after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton-Elizabeth and Ann are also both family names“)
Maximilian Leo (“after Saint Maximilian Kolbe-Leo is a family name“)

I love both of those names so much! So much faith significance in each one, and all those family names too!

Heather writes,

We refer to them as “Lizzie” and “Max.” What I am not sure of with this baby is if we would like to stick with the longer/older sounding name with a shorter more fun nickname. My husband isn’t as married to this idea, and feels that if we do it a third time we would feel like we had to keep it up with any other babies we have down the road.”

I do really love the balance of the long first name with the short middle name, and great nicknames are my jam. ☺

Names that Heather and her husband have considered include:

Clare (“my husband’s favorite currently-he is Irish and grew up on Clare street“)
Catherine (“maybe my favorite although we do have some friends in our parish with a Catherine. If we chose this, I would like to call her “Cate”“)
Edith (“maybe call her “Edie pronounced ee-dee?” Not sure if we could have Edith and Elizabeth or if those sound too similar?“)
Frances (“call her Francie or Frannie“)
Lydia
Maura
Rose
Zelie
Clara

Additionally,

We both love St. Therese, but I do not love that for a first name. I also really love Catherine of Siena which is why I like Catherine.

Because our oldest daughter’s name honors my mother-in-law, as they share the middle name of Ann, we would like to find some way to honor my mother with this baby girl’s name, if possible. My mother and I share the middle name of Kay, so that is one solid possibility for a middle name for this baby.”

I loved working on this! Elizabeth Ann and Maximilian Leo are fantastic combos—I find the long first+short middle pattern really pleasing, and though I know what Heather’s husband means about feeling tied to it permanently if they name their third baby in the same way, it’s actually a pretty easy trend to continue. So I came up with some ideas that follow the trend, and those that don’t.

First I want to comment on the names on their list of those they’re considering:

Clare: I love Clare for them! It’s short, thus breaking them out of their established pattern, but it’s great with both Elizabeth and Maximilian. And the significance for Heather’s hubs is so great!

Catherine: I have a lot to say about Catherine below!

Edith: Love it! St. Edith Stein is a personal favorite, and Edie is one of THE cutest nicknames! But yes, they’ll have to consider Elizabeth and Edith … both starting with the same first letter, both ending with the same two letters. What do you all think? Deal breaker or not?

Frances: Francie and Frannie are both so darling! I love that they’re considering Frances, I’d love to see more little girls with this name.

Lydia, Maura, Rose, Zelie: All beautiful! Heather didn’t have any comment about them, so I’m assuming they’re not as “in the running” as the others, but maybe I’m wrong? I like them each for different reasons.

Clara: My inclination would be to cross Clara off the list, since Clare has personal meaning for Heather’s husband—using Clara would seem to me to lose a great opportunity.

Okay, moving along, I’d like to discuss honoring Heather’s mom. Using her middle name, Kay, is one great idea; I also I wondered what they’d think about giving the baby Heather’s mom’s initials? (Her mom’s first name is Marcia, so her initials are M.K.) This is a tactic that some families use, and the honoree feels really honored by it; others think it feels too far from the honoree’s name and therefore don’t feel as honored, so Heather and her hubs would have to decide how her mom would feel. But doing the initial thing opens up a lot of possibilities, and my favorites, based on the results of my research in the Baby Name Wizard book (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), are:

Mary Katherine: They already have Catherine on their list, and while the Katherine spelling does seem to take it one step away from St. Catherine of Siena, Catherine and Katherine are the same name (the former is the French spelling, also used in English; the latter is the English spelling and closest to the Greek katharos [“pure”], with which the name—in both spellings—has long been associated), and Katherine can certainly honor St. Catherine of Siena (whose name was actually the Italian Catarina; Catherine is a Frenchicization/Anglicization of it). It would involve a bit of a discussion each time they told someone that Katherine was as much for St. Catherine of Siena as for Heather’s mom, but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker at all. A simple, “We love St. Catherine of Siena and my mom’s middle name Kay so we went with the Katherine spelling” should suffice.

Another really nice thing about using Katherine is that Kay is considered a short form of Katherine. Certainly Kay has its own life as a standalone name, but my understanding is that it started as a diminutive/nickname/variant of Katherine. So using Katherine is not only using Heather’s mom’s middle initial, but also, in a way, her name (again, Heather would have to be sure she felt honored by this choice, if her goal was to honor her mom). And I love that Mary has the same first three letters as Marcia. So Mary Katherine really is quite close to Marcia Kay! I love Mary Katherine as a sister to Elizabeth and Maximilian as well, and there are a lot of nickname options: Mary and Mary Kate are natural ones, but they can also do just Kate, as they’d planned on if they went with Catherine as a first name. This is especially fun with Heather’s husband being Irish, because it’s not uncommon (at least in the old days) for Irish girls to be named Mary ___ and go by the double name, or just the middle. Most of my dad’s first female cousins—all from two sides of a large family who embraces their Irishness—are Mary ___, and almost all of them go by their middle names. (Read more about the Irish Marys in my latest CatholicMom article: Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.)

So they could definitely do Kate, and with her given name being Mary Katherine, that would make it a little different from the little Catherine they know. And I think Mary Katherine works really well with their thought of not doing a long+short combo this time, because Mary Katherine feels like a double name—which gives it the longer feel of Elizabeth and Maximilian—but unless they intend for it to be a double name, it’s actually a short+long—a really nice way to move away from their current pattern without seeming totally different. (I should note that even if they used Mary Catherine, knowing that Katherine is related to Kay and Catherine is the same name as Katherine, I still really like it for them.)

Maura Karoline: Heather and her hubs already have Maura on their list (I love this beautiful Irish Mary name!), and Karoline is a name I’ve seen used with some frequency among Catholic families as a way of honoring St. John Paul II, as his birth name was Karol. Overall, it’s a smashing combo that brings in Irishness and faith along with Heather’s mom’s initials.

Molly Katherine/Karoline: (Obviously Katherine and Karoline can be interchanged in the combos above as well—Mary Karoline and Maura Katherine are both gorgeous.) Molly is a name I thought of for this family right away for two reasons: Heather’s husband’s Irish, and I have two sisters named Elizabeth and Molly. To me, then, Elizabeth, Maximilian, and Molly go together really well!

I know some people who don’t care for Molly as a given name, as it feels too nicknamey to them—and though it has become a standalone name, it did indeed originate as a nickname for Mary—which can work in their favor here as well. A Mary K/Catherine or Mary Karoline could absolutely go by Molly—I know several people named Mary who go by Molly. And I even know a Maura who goes by Molly! I love this option for them, however it ends up happening. (I also wanted to mention that I know a Molly Therese, which is another combo that’s gorgeous, and Heather said she loves St. Therese …)

Okay! Those are my ideas for honoring Heather’s mom with initials, but I have several other ideas for them as well, which can be grouped into two categories: Long first names to go with the middle name Kay (and how amazing that they have a meaningful, three-letter middle to use, just like Ann and Leo?!), and short to middling names to break out of their pattern. All of the ideas are the results of my research into names that seem consistent with their style, as demonstrated by Elizabeth and Maximilian, as well as my own mental files.

Long first names
(1) Bernadette
Zelie and Therese had me thinking of other French names they might like, and Bernadette came right to mind. St. Bernadette is wonderful, and there are some really cute nickname possibilities: Berni, Benny, Netty, Etta/Etty, and Detta. Bernadette Kay has a lovely rhythm to it.

(2) Rosemary or Rosemarie
This is only partially a new idea, since they have Rose on their list already. I have a friend from Ireland named Rosemarie, and I love that that’s the French spelling—seems to put it in a similar category as Zelie, Therese, and Bernadette to me. Rosemary is also a wonderful variant, and maybe the one most people would be familiar with. Rosemary Kay and Rosemarie Kay are both great, and Rosie, Romy, and even Rory are really sweet nicknames.

(3) Margaret
Like Mary, Margaret starts with the same first three letters of Heather’s mom’s first name, so Margaret could also be a nice option for M.K. initials. And they certainly could do the longer Margaret with a long middle name, like Katherine or Karoline or whatever, but I really like the balance of Margaret Kay. Maggie is a great nickname and has a similar feel to me as Molly, and Maisie and Daisy are both traditional nickname for Margaret, which could be really fun. Margaret and Elizabeth are also two of the three “timeless English trio” names, according to the BNW (the other is Katherine!), so they definitely go together as sisters.

(4) Josephine
Josephine is a style match for Elizabeth and Catherine according to the BNW, and can have either St. Joseph (yesterday was his feast day!) or St. Josephine Bakhita as patron—both great saints! Josie is a great nickname, and I’ve also seen Joy, Sophie, and Posy/Posey used (as well as this list from Appellation Mountain).

(5) Caroline
I mentioned Karoline above, using that spelling to fit in with Heather’s mom’s initials, but I had Caroline on my list for them for a first name from the beginning. It’s got the length of Elizabeth and Maximilian, and I love the nicknames Carrie and Callie. It might not be great with Kay though—some people love alliterative sounds and others don’t. Caroline Therese is beautiful too.

(6) Cecilia
Cecilia’s a style match for Catherine and Lydia, and it’s super saintly like Elizabeth and Maximilian. Cecilia Kay is really lovely—it has sort of an Old World glamor to it, to me, and Cece is a sweet nickname.

Short to middle first names
(1) Alice
Alice was a big hit for this family according to the BNW! It’s a style match for Edith, Frances, Rose, Clara, and Lydia! It’s a sweet vintage-y name that’s already back in revival mode. There are a bunch of saints to choose for patron — even though most of them are better known by more international variants, they’re all Alice. (One of the variants, Adelaide, would actually make a great addition to the “long first names” list above!)

(2) Cora
Cora is a sweet little truffle of a name, and I’ve been loving it recently, ever since I heard of families using it in honor of both the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus! (Cor=heart in Latin) Cora Kay doesn’t work so well; Cora Therese is beautiful.

(3) Lucy
Like Alice, Lucy was a great style match for them, being similar to Clara, Rose, and Lydia. Lucy is one of the darlingest names I think! And familiarly saintly, like Elizabeth and Maximilian. I’ve also often thought Lucy would be a great nickname for Louisa, if they thought Louisa was more their speed.

(4) Julia
Finally, Julia is a style match for Elizabeth, Catherine, and Lydia, and Juliet (which is technically a nickname for Julia) is a match for Clare. It’s such a sophisticated name, and while Julie/Jules are natural nicknames, I’ve also seen Jilly, which is sweet, and I also like the idea of Junie, if it was paired with an N middle name for example—Julia Noelle or something like that. I did a spotlight on Juliet here, in which I touch on the faith connections for Julia.

I also wanted to give a few minutes to thinking of three-letter names in case Heather and her hubs decide they want to stick with that pattern going forward. For girls, there’s:

Ave/Ava (like Ave Maria! And Ava’s a variant of Eve, which can also be Marian)
Bay (lovely nature name)
Day (I’ve seen this used for Servant of God Dorothy Day)
Eve/Eva (Eve can be Marian because she’s the New Eve)
Fae/Fay (sometimes used as a Faith variant)
Lia/Lea (variants of Leah; can also refer to names ending in -lia, like Julia)
Liv (Scandinavian for “life,” or a variant of Olivia or a nod to St. Oliver or Our Lady of Olives)
Mae/May (a Mary variant)
Mia (a form of Maria in several languages)
Ora (like “ora pro nobis”)
Paz (means “peace” in Spanish; could be for Our Lady of Peace)
Pia (feminine form of Pius/Pio)
Via (like the Via Dolorosa)
Zoe (St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name)

And for boys:

Cam (a river in England)
Eli (for the prophet)
Gus (for St. Augustine)
Ivo (Ivo is a variant of Yves/Ives, as in St. Yves and Burl Ives)
Jay (could refer to James/Jacob/Jason, but I’ve also seen it as a standalone name)
Jon (nice that a variant spelling fits so well into their pattern!)
Pio (for St. Pio, or could refer to any of the Sts. Pius)
Ray (for Raymond, or on its own)
Roy (can mean “king,” which could refer to Jesus)

A good way to continue the pattern without being tied in to number of letters is to use one-syllable middles like Clare, Rose, Maeve, Pierce, Carl, James—a one-syllable middle with a long first is a nice balance.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think about continuing Heather and her hubs’ current pattern of long first name+three-letter middle? What names would you suggest that would go well as a sister for Elizabeth/Lizzie and Maximilian/Max? Can you think of any other three-letter names, in case they want to continue it? Heather would love your ideas, so please jump right in!

Baby name consultation: Brother name for Jude and Isaac

Stephanie and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This little one joins big brothers:

Jude Patrick
Isaac Edward

Awesome names, awesome style, love them!

Stephanie writes,

We really like the name Hope for a girl … My husband really wants a Mark Edward III for a boy. I really don’t want to do a “the third.” I could possibly do Mark with a different middle name, and call him by the middle name, but I don’t like the confusion of the exact same name. My boy name preferences fall along the lines of Micah [though unusable because their last name sounds really similar to it], Blaise, Fisher (after St. John Fisher), and Ephraim. My husband isn’t as adventurous with his names, but he did mention Maccabee at one point! My husband is [also] open to Benedict.”

Okay, so first off, I kept in the bit about Stephanie and her husband liking Hope for a girl, for inspiration, but they really only need help with boy names.

Regarding the idea of Mark Edward III, I love Jude and Isaac together, and while Mark does fit in with them in because they’re all biblical and saintly, I feel like Jude and Isaac give off a particular vibe that Mark doesn’t. I’m not quite sure how to describe it … “scholarly” and “sophisticated” come to mind re: Jude and Isaac, but I don’t think Mark is unscholarly or unsophisticated, so that’s not quite right … Do you all know what I mean? Do you agree?

Also, they’ve already used Edward for Isaac’s middle name, and while “matching vibes” and different middle names isn’t a requirement at all if Stephanie and her husband like a particular name, these thoughts might be helpful for Stephanie in trying to convince her husband away from using Mark Edward III.

I was trying to think of various ways that Stephanie’s husband could have the *feel* of a III without actually doing a literal III, and I came up with:

  • Using the same first name, but a different middle name (and he could even go by Trey/Trip/Tripper if they wanted him to, for Mark III, even though he wouldn’t be III on paper [and would therefore avoid some of the paperwork nightmares I’ve heard about])
  • Using a variant of Mark — there’s Marco, Marcus, and Marek. I also discovered the surname Markson, which does actually mean Mark’s son (I saw it spelled somewhere as Marxon too, but then I couldn’t find that again … I think they could definitely do it though if they wanted to!)
  • Using Stephanie’s husband’s initials — an M first name and an E middle name. I think this is my favorite idea for them, and I have M.E. thoughts below
  • How about any nicknames Stephanie’s husband goes by? Any nicknames given to him by college/sports buddies, or some funny thing his family called him when he was little that could perhaps be fashioned into a first name?

Beyond that, I used Jude, Isaac, Hope, Micah (though I know this is off the table because of their last name!), Blaise, Fisher, Ephraim, Maccabee (!) and Benedict as inspiration in my research, which, as you all know, almost always starts by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also combed through my own mental files and came up with the following ideas:

(1) Matthias
Matthias is my favorite idea for them in the “use your husband’s initials” idea (and just in general too, I love it!). It’s got more of an Old Testament rhythm and sound I think, which fits in nicely with Isaac, but it’s actually a New Testament name, which is nice for Jude. And Jude and Isaac are two particularly Catholic biblical names, in my opinion, since St. Jude is so revered and St. Isaac Jogues is so amazing, and I’ve often thought Matthias is a really Catholic biblical name because he was chosen by the others to replace Judas—sort of like the first Church Council! 😁 Something like Matthias Ephraim for M.E. initials, or a less heavy middle like Matthias Evan (kind of fits with the Jude’s Patrick) or Matthias Eli, or, if they didn’t mind heavy, Matthias Emmanuel.

(2) Miles
Miles is my second favorite idea for this family in the M.E. idea. I’ve pushed it on a lot of people! One of its characteristics is that it’s used as an Anglicization of the old Irish name Maelmhuire, which literally means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” So great, right? A legit Marian name for a boy! I didn’t think of it though until I saw that it’s a style match for Isaac, Hope, and Julian, which I know isn’t Jude, but some use Jude as a nickname for Julian, so I’m really feeling it for this family! Because it’s so short I love it with Emmanuel; Ephraim and Eli both go quite nicely with it as well!

(3) Malachi or Malachy
Maccabee made me think of Malachi, as I think they can both take Mac as a nickname, which is so great. The spelling Malachy is Irish, and though Stephanie didn’t mention anything about being Irish and their last name is so German, I latched onto Jude’s middle name (Patrick) when looking for further information.

(4) Pierce
Pierce is listed as a style match for Jude and Blaise in the BNW and one of you readers left a comment about someone they know who named their son Pierce for how Our Lady’s heart was pierced by a sword. Amazing! I like that it’s biblical like Jude and Isaac (as it’s a form of Peter), but also fits that sort of distinguished, scholarly feel I get from Jude and Isaac as well.

(5) Fulton
Fisher on Stephanie’s list made me think of Fulton, and I thought I’d suggest it—maybe her husband would like it better than Fisher? It has more of a first-name feel than Fisher, since most people are familiar with Ven. Fulton Sheen; this post on nickname ideas for Fulton might also be helpful. I also see families who use or consider the name Fulton also use or consider Jude and Isaac, so I think it fits well. I really love how Fulton Mark sounds, if they were open to putting Mark in the middle!

(6) Bennett
Finally, I wondered about Bennett for this family. It’s inspired by Benedict, since it’s a form of Benedict, but it’s lighter and some find it a little easier to work with than Benedict. It’s also a style match for Hope, as well as Luke, and I’ve often thought of Jude and Luke as two sides of the same coin (people who like one tend to like the other, though the more adventurous usually land with Jude, while the others tend to go with Luke), so I thought it was a great fit with Stephanie’s boys. I think Bennett Mark sounds quite nice as well!

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother of Jude and Isaac?

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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