Baby name consultation: Short+sweet, easy to pronounce, Celtic feel

Caitlin and her husband are compiling name ideas for a future baby (they’re not currently expecting), which is a really fun kind of consultation to work on! Their current children are:

Liam Christopher (“I have loved the name Liam since I was 10 (and apparently so had every other woman that gave birth in 2014!) and always wanted to use it if I ever had a little boy. I almost balked because it had gotten so popular but in the end knew I would regret not using it. He is a Liam through and through! Christopher is my husband’s first name.”)

Clare McKenna Constance (“My husband and I happened to be married on St. Clare’s feast day and the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clares. We then honeymooned in Ireland where we thought how cool it would be to use a geographic, Irish name somehow, so our girl’s first name is for both St. Clare and County Clare. McKenna is my maiden name that I have long thought of using as a middle. My husband and I liked that our first boy has a name from him and our first girl has a name from me. Constance was a last minute addition. My Grandmother (first name Constance) passed away while I was pregnant with Clare. It is also a strong family name as I additionally have an aunt and cousin named Constance. Her 3 names suit her very well as she is full of personality and a red head to boot! We joke that 2 names would not have been enough to contain all that is Clare! We are not big on nicknames but we often use her full name as a sort of nickname.”)

You all know how I feel about Irish names!! I love Liam and Clare together, and I love their name stories!

Caitlin writes,

First of all, we are not currently expecting but if and when we do have more children we are pretty stumped. Our son and daughter have “the” boy and girl names so it’s been very hard to find other names that fit just as well … It has taken naming two children to see that we do have a bit of a naming style. We seem to like “short and sweet” (ideally 1-2 syllables and not too long letter wise), easy to pronounce names. We definitely prefer “softer”, not-harsh sounding names. We like nicknames in theory but in practice prefer to name our children what we plan on calling them. I go almost exclusively by Cait and my husband by Chris so we rarely hear the sound of our full first name! I am from 2 large Irish American families and definitely tend to be drawn to Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo style names but that is not a requirement. My husband is son to 2 first generation Italian immigrants but we are not drawn to most Italian/Latin/Spanish sounding names. We like to use the middle name as an honorific. We probably would not use a top 5 first name unless we LOVED it, like we did Liam.

There are a couple of things we like in theory but not so far in reality, like nicknames. We also like the idea of flower names for a girl but don’t actually like a lot of the shorter flower names and/or they are too popular. We would also like to use a girl’s name that would honor Our Lady but are not big fans of most Mary/Mari/Maria names. Despite that, the idea of using a name like “Marigold” (as it means “Mary’s Gold”) in the middle spot is actually growing on me. It feels a little indulgent for our style but I think it could be anchored by a more familiar first name. One thing I would like to hear your thoughts on, if anything comes to you: we as a family have a devotion to Our Lady under the title “Star of the Sea” or Maris Stella and would like to somehow use a name that is a nod to that. As I mentioned we don’t love most “Mari” names (there are also just sooo many “Mary-Something”/Marias between my Irish family and his Italian family) and don’t like the name Stella very much. I wouldn’t be opposed to using “Maristella” as a middle but again, it just seems a little too extravagant for us. Is there any way you can think of that could reference this title of Our Lady without actually using either word?

On to some lists!

Names we do like, for inspiration:
Girls: Lucy, Chloe, Ruby, Zelie, Gemma, Nora, Isla
Boys: Eamon, Ephraim, Finn (probably my favorite but my husband has a hopeless association with a very silly golden retriever named Finn), Jude, Theo, Oliver

Names we do like but can’t use:
Girls: Brigid, Lily(we just know too many!), Alice
Boys: Asher, Milo, Colm (just a little to clunky to say, I wish it wasn’t!), Calum, Leo (too close to Liam)

Names we dislike OR Family names we can’t repeat:
Girls: Joanna, Sophia, Audrey, Catherine or any variant, Anne, Lauren/Laura, Theresa/Therese, Julie , -ianna names (Gianna, Lillianna, etc etc)
Boys: Samuel, Connor, Matthew, Patrick, Andrew, Noah, Jonah, Ryan, Neil, Nathan, Juian, Stephen

Past and Present Pet’s names we obviously can’t use 😉
Reily, Lacey, Fiona, Bailey

Saints we would honor, likely in the middle spot somehow:
Joseph( also a big family name/my husbands middle name and I love Josephine as a girl middle), Nicholas, Anthony, Bernadette, Raphael, Pius, St. Therese, Rocco, Benedict, Bruno, Therese of Lisieux, Francis, Laurence, Our Lady

My problem with all of the Saints we would like to honor is that I don’t actually like any of their names! My husband doesn’t share this problem and would probably be fine with using any of these for a middle name as is, but I would like to try to find creative homages if possible.”

Alrighty, so I really like that Cait feels they’ve been able to whittle their style down to “short and sweet,” easy to pronounce, “softer” names, and that nicknames aren’t as big for them as they might have thought — I relied heavily on these guidelines when coming up with ideas for them.

I also like that they’re considering Marigold and Maristella for the middle name spot! They’re great names, but if they feel uncomfortable as first names, the middle spot would be a great place for them.

I gave some thought to their “Star of the Sea” question and had a few ideas:

  • Marina: Marina means “of the sea” AND it’s sometimes used in Scotland as an anglicization of the Scottish form of Mary, Màiri. So you can get the sea + Mary + Gaelic/Celtic/Anglo all in one name!
  • Another “star” name: There are several girl names besides Stella that mean “star” or similar, including Estelle (the French form of Stella), Esther (Persian), Seren (Welsh), Steren (Cornish), and the literary name Elanor (from Lord of the Rings – it means “star sun” in Sindarin, and it was also the name of a flower in the LOTR universe, and Samwise’s first daughter). Of those, I particularly like Elanor for them, since they already have Nora on their list of names they’re considering, and Nora can be a nickname for Eleanor/Elanor. Something like Elanor Marina could mean “star + of the sea,” if they felt the connection was strong enough to honor their devotion
  • Another “sea” name: There are other girl names that mean “sea,” as well, including Meri (Finnish), Mira (Indian, Hindi), Muirenn (sea+white/fair in Irish). I’m intrigued by Muirenn, because of their Irish sensibility … Forvo says it’s pronounced like “MUR-in”, as does Baby Names of Ireland I’m quite taken with Elanor Muirenn!

Before I get to my new suggestions to add to their (awesome) list of names, I had a few thoughts about them, and about the saints they’d like to honor (but t they don’t like their names):

  • I wonder if they’d consider Flynn instead of Finn? It’s so similar to Finn, but might be different enough that the dog association would be lost
  • I was so surprised to see Ephraim on their list! It’s almost completely unfamiliar to me! It doesn’t seem easy to say and spell to me, but I love seeing wildcard names on a couple’s list, so I loved seeing it here! Funny enough, Laura Wattenberg (author of the Baby Name Wizard, which I rely heavily on in my consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity) wrote in her latest blog post about “55 Biblical Names Reaching New Heights” and Ephraim is one (it’s currently at no. 884; it entered the top 1000 in 2013 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1914). It didn’t inform any of my suggestions below, as I felt it was so different from their other ideas, which tended to be more similar to each other than not. But it did make me think of one name that I thought I’d mention here, in case it strikes their fancy: Malachy. There’s the Old Testament prophet Malachi, which gives Malachy the same biblical feel as Ephraim, but
  • Malachy is an Irish saint’s name and an anglicized form of some heavy-duty old Irish names
  • Cait said they can’t use Milo — I wonder if Miles would be different enough? I’m a huge fan of Miles! Both it and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”! Irish, Mary, and male, all in one name! Also easy to say and spell, short and sweet
  • Josephine for a girl’s middle seems a great way to honor St. Joseph, if they don’t care for Joseph for a boy
  • I have an idea for Nicholas in my official suggestions below
  • For Anthony, I wonder if they would like any of the variants like Antonio or Anton? Or maybe Padua as a middle name?
  • I believe St. Bernadette’s given name was Marie-Bernarde, so maybe just Marie could sufficiently nod to her? (And Our Lady of course, a two-for-one!)
  • Pio and Pia are variants of Pius, maybe they’d like to consider one of them?
  • St. Therese was Marie-Therese, so Marie could be for her too (and Bernadette and Our Lady, whew!). I see Rose names given in her honor frequently as well — I quite like Rose or Rosa for this family, though I know Cait said they don’t care for a lot of the shorter flower names. I have another idea below for honoring St. Therese
  • Bennett is a medieval form of Benedict that I see pop up fairly frequently on lists of names parents are considering
  • Unfortunately I can’t think of anything great for Raphael, Rocco, Bruno, Francis, or Laurence! But I do have some ideas for Our Lady below

Okay, so I looked up the names Cait and her hubs have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and added some ideas of my own. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

Girl

(1) Maura, Moira, Molly
This is one of my Marian ideas — an Irish form of the name itself! I think Maura might be the best option for them, as it’s easy to say and spell. Moira is a pretty option too, though I know pronunciation varies depending on who you’re talking to. And I love Molly for them — it’s a style match for Lucy, Ruby, and Nora. (Using Maura or Moira would knock Nora off for the future, unfortunately.)

(2) Eva
Eva is a style match for Theo, and funny enough, I already had it on my list for Cait and her hubs for three reasons: first, I was trying to think of Irish names that could be easily anglicized, and Aoife was one of the first I thought of; second, Eva can be considered Marian in that Our Lady is considered the New Eve; and thirdly, because in the traditional hymn Ave Maris Stella there’s this stanza:

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below

Since the name Eva is used in the hymn, I thought maybe they could consider Eva to be a nod to Our Lady, Star of the Sea.

(3) Maisie
Maisie is a traditional nickname for Margaret, as it’s a diminutive of Mairead (the Irish Margaret). Though it’s often used as a nickname, it’s also bestowed as a given name — it was no. 574 in 2016 on the SSA chart.

(4) Tess(a)
This is my other idea for honoring St. Therese. Tess is a common nickname for the Teresa/Therese names, and like Maisie it can also stand on its own (it was a top 1000 name from 1983 to 2013). Tessa is also lovely, and feels more complete to some parents — it was no. 229 in 2016. (They could also consider the Irish Treasa!)

(5) Grace
Grace was a big style match for this family, being similar to Clare and the Lucy/Ruby/Nora/Molly names. It’s easy to say and spell; there’s the darling Gracie as a nickname if they’d like; and it honors Our Lady as well! It could go really well with heavy hitting, offbeat middles like Marigold and Maristella, though maybe that would be too many Marian names? I also like Grace Bernadette and Grace Josephine (Mary and Joseph in one! Beautiful!).

Boy

(1) Jack, Sean, Shane
These were my first ideas for them before I finished reading Cait’s email! I know they have John, Ian, Owen, and Evan on their list of names they don’t like/can’t repeat, so maybe they meant to add Jack, Sean, and Shane as well … but I had to suggest them just in case! All of them are easy to say and spell and nod to Cait’s Irish heritage.

(2) Henry
Henry is a style match for Clara (standing in for Clare, since Clare doesn’t have its own entry), Lucy, and Theo. I think it definitely has a British Isles feel, and there are loads of great Sts. Henry to choose from! I did a spotlight of the name here.

(3) Colin
This is my idea for Nicholas, and I had it on my list for them before I went back and re-read Cait’s email and remembered that Nicholas is one of the saints they love but don’t love his name. It’s easier than Colm and similar to Calum, but I didn’t see it on any of their “can’t/won’t use” lists. It’s got usage as an anglicized form of some Gaelic names, but for this family I prefer the separate usage derived from a medieval diminutive of Nicholas.

(4) Rowan, Rowen (Rohan?)
I’ll be interested to see what they think of Rowan/Rowen! Rowan did surprisingly well for them in my research, being similar in style to Gemma, Isla, and Finn. It’s more unisex than some parents of boys like — in 2016 it was no. 182 for boys and no. 239 for girls — but the spelling Rowen might help (visually anyway, even though it’s said the same as Rowan), as it’s no. 658 for boys and not in the top 1000 for girls. Another option that’s similar is Rohan, which can be said like Rowan, or it could be said RO-han, like the Riders of Rohan in LOTR. It’s got exclusively masculine use as far as I can tell — it was no. 742 in 2016, given to 327 boys and less than five girls (if any; the SSA only lists names given to five children or more in a given year).

(5) Casey
My last idea for Cait and her hubs is Casey. Like Rowan, it has unisex usage; unlike Rowan, the gap between the boy and girl usage is much larger: it was no. 560 for boys in 2016 and no. 857 for girls. The recent beatification of Bl. Solanus Casey has put it on the radar of quite a few parents, and he’s the first Irish American Blessed, which is awesome for Cait’s heritage. I think it’s short and sweet, and easy to say and spell.

There were a few other ideas I considered adding to the list, which I ultimately decided not to for various reasons, but I thought I’d include them here just in case: Greer, Maeve, and Julia for girls; Rhys, Alec, and Blaine for boys.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Liam and Clare?

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Birth announcement: Lewis Maron Job!

Our dear reader eclare, aka Emma, for whom I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for her fifth baby and fifth boy almost two years ago, has had her sixth baby — her sixth boy! She and her husband have given him the amazing and meaningful name … Lewis Maron Job!

Happily, Emma provided lots of details about his naming!

Lewis: both our childhoods were defined by C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, our adolescences enlightened by his Screwtape Letters, and our adult faith refined by Lewis’ many works of nonfiction. The name Lewis also is tied to our Arthur’s patrons (Blsd. Arthur Bell and St Edmund Campion) by a 3rd hunted priest of the Reformation: St. David Lewis, a Catholic priest who was martyred for the “crime” of offering Holy Mass in England in the 1600s. Lewis is also a distant family name on both sides. And St. Louis Martin, the first married saint to be canonized alongside his wife, is another patron through the French spelling of the same name.
http://lastwelshmartyr.blogspot.com/2009/10/family-of-st-david-lewis.html
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lewis_(Jesuit)

Maron: a holy hermit in Syria in the 400s, namesake of the Maronite Catholic Church. St. Maron lived in the open air, exposed to all the elements until his death at a very old age. His faith in the Lord and his dwelling in the Spirit sustained him, beyond physical explanation. Our spiritual director and his monks — near whom we plan to move and raise our sons — are Maronites, as are Lewis’ godparents.
http://www.holy-transfiguration.org/library_en/saints_much.html
http://www.itmonline.org/bodytheology/stmaron.html

Job: our devotion to St. Job, the Much-Suffering, has been strong these past two years of many difficulties. Throughout our months without water which resulted in the deaths of many of our animals and plants (adjacent property owners challenged our water rights), to a flood/mudslide that ruined our fences and pastures, another flood that saturated the interior of our house, dozens of mudslides that closed our road for up to 3 weeks at a time, 20 months of essential unemployment, a 1st trimester that coincided with Don’s police academy, 3 blown car engines, and so on, we looked to the unfailing faith-while-suffering of St. Job as our model. http://otftd.blogspot.com/2013/05/righteous-job-model-of-long-suffering.html

I’ve loved the name Lewis for awhile now, for all the reasons listed, but it took me some time to find a patron. Once I found St David Lewis and his story, we were both sold. We’ve had Lewis Maron picked out for #6 since #5 was born (then the “Job” addition came to us this Fall). The same thing happened with our Arthur and Reuben: loved the name, then found the patron. It feels a little backwards, but I like to think of it as the Saint finding *us* through our love of the name. ❤️

A second weird name-y confession: I’ve always disliked the name Louis, and I still do!! Isn’t that so weird? But Lewis is completely different to me. So balanced, with the consonants in the front, middle, and end, and no danger of being a “Louie.” Even Lew is different from Lou — so literary and all. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Lastly, I had some misgivings about using Lewis because it is very much a place-name where we live. It’s near the end of the Lewis & Clark Expedition/Oregon Trail and every hill, dale, and puddle is Lewis-something. In the end I decided to own it, since it makes this spelling more familiar to everyone. Plus, it’s kind of cool to see his name wherever we go!

Isn’t this all so great?? Emma has such great taste in names, I’m not at all surprised that her little guy was given such a handsome and unexpected combination. And I love all her additional thoughts — her “weird name-y confession” of disliking Louis but loving Lewis, having Saints find us through the love of certain names (I so agree!), and just owning a potentially difficult characteristic of a name — such great stuff!

Congratulations to Emma and her husband and the five big brothers, and happy birthday Baby Lewis!!

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Lewis Maron Job

Baby name consultation: Svellerella Baby No. 5!

Today’s consultation is for Carolyn, who you’ll know from her blog Svellerella (+Instagram) and her gorgeous hand-drawn-illustrations-and-lettering Etsy shop Brass & Mint Co. (+Instagram)! (Find her on Facebook too!) She was also on Haley and Christy’s podcast Fountain of Carrots last week talking about mothering her little boy with special needs — as she said, “They asked me about what it was like going through an Autism diagnosis and parenting a kid with autism, getting to church with Emmett’s challenges, and how I “do it all” (spoiler: I don’t.).” Such a beautiful, loving, pro-life mama witness!

Carolyn and her husband Craig are now expecting their fifth baby — fifth boy! I loooooove the names they’ve chosen so far:

Lexington Anthony (“We picked Lexington because we liked the phonetics, and the originality of it. At that time, neither of us cared about name meanings, and while we still love his name, it’s a little out of our scope of interest towards “originality” these days. Anthony was chosen for St. Anthony of Padua. And upon thinking about it later and knowing the story of St. Anthony’s ability to speak eloquently, it is a funny spiritual accident that we chose the first name Lexington — lexicon.”)

Emmett James (“We love the old timey feel of the name Emmett. And James was our Biblical/Christian pick.”)

Collin John Paul (“Honestly, It was the only name we agreed on. John Paul is after my patron saint JPII.”)

Jude Benedict (“We absolutely love the name Jude. It’s older, not overly popular, and while it breaks our streak of multiple syllable first names, it sounds strong to us. St. Benedict is my husband’s patron saint, and we love Benedict XVI.”)

What an interesting bunch of names! You all know I love bold naming, so seeing Lexington in the mix is so fun, and I love her other boys’ names as well.

Names they’re considering for this next little guy include:

Ambrose (“he’s due near St. Ambrose’s feast day … the only problem is that neither of us care for the double S sound when said with our last name Svellinger“)
Dominic
Edmund
Theodore (“we love Teddy, don’t love Theo“)
Gabriel (“This one is my top pick currently“)

And Carolyn explains,

We tend to be more creative with first names and choose a Christian based middle name [though note that she said above that Lexington is “a little out of our scope of interest towards ‘originality’ these days”] … Generally, neither of us care for nicknames, with the exception of Theodore. I’m a nerd and pay close attention to the phonetics of a name. For example, I don’t like if a name begins with a sound that starts from the back of the throat and drags with another sound from the same place: the sound that C + L makes when said together is an example. I know, it’s silly. Cluuhhh sounds and feels like I’m hawking a loogie … can’t handle it. Craig thinks I’m ridiculous.”

😂😂😂

Finally,

Last bit of info — I L O V E British literature and often think of Shakespeare, Lewis, Austen, Chesterton, Tolkien, and yes, Rowling — I adore nearly everything that comes from Brit lit and I’d love to draw from something there.”

My mind started clicking as soon as I read all this! I was particularly interested by the fact that Carolyn said Lexington is more unusual than where her and her husband’s current taste is — Emmett, Collin, and Jude really do have a similar feel to me, it’s pretty clear they backed off of really out-there names. That said, as you all know I really love coming up with “bridge” names that connect an outlier sibling name with the others, so I’d really love to come up with an idea that might loop Lexington back in while still fitting with their other boys’ names. I definitely focused on that to a good extent when looking for names that I thought Carolyn and Craig might like.

Backing up a bit for a minute, I wanted to comment on the names they already have on their list for their new little boy:

— Ambrose: We love Ambrose too! If they decide to use it, despite it ending in S and their last name beginning with S, one of its big benefits I think is that it swings their whole set back toward the more unusual.

— Dominic: One of my very favorites! I definitely think it fits well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

— Edmund: Narnia! St. Edmund Campion! Such a great name. And Teddy is a traditional nickname for all the Ed- names, so they could totally do Edmund nicked Teddy! I also love the idea of Campion for them — if they could move away from Teddy and Narnia, Campion seems more like Lexington’s style while still being super saintly. And, since Carolyn pointed out the similarity between Lexington and “lexicon,” she might also like to know that Campion means “champion”!

— Theodore: I like its length with Lexington, and it too seems a great fit with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. Teddy’s super cute too. In the interest of shifting a bit towards Lexington’s style (which I’m thinking of variously as “unusual,” “place name,” and “surname-y”), I wonder what they’d think of the more unusual Thaddeus? Teddy can be a nickname for Thaddeus (I know a grown-up Thaddeus who goes by Ted), and Taddy is a similar-but-different nickname for it as well. I also wondered if they’d be interested in getting Teddy as a nickname from mashing up a first+middle combo? I was thinking something like Tolkien Edmund, for example. Too weird? Or Titus Edmund (Titus is a Shakespeare name)?

— Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names, I love seeing it here on Carolyn’s list, and as much as I love the faith connection, I also love that it’s got good use in Ireland (actor Gabriel Byrne, for one, love him!), which is not dissimilar from her Brit lit love. Great name! I think it goes really well with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

Carolyn’s “C+L” issue made me laugh! Also that her hubs thinks it’s ridiculous! We all have our quirks when it comes to naming, and I’m always so interested to hear other people’s. I purposely stayed away from suggesting Clive for them because of this. 😊

I also love names from British literature! So when I was thinking of names to suggest, I looked up all the male names from Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Charles Dickens (thank you internet!) (searches for Chesterton’s characters didn’t result in any other than Fr. Brown, but neither Father nor Brown seemed like their style 😉), as well as place names mentioned in those works. I wrote down all the ones that I thought might possibly fit their style, then cross-checked that list against my research in the Baby Name Wizard (you all know that I always start by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity). Because Lexington isn’t listed in the BNW, I used Lennox as a stand-in there, and then looked Lexington up in the Name Matchmaker tool on the BNW web site — it showed a bunch of names as being similar to Lexington that I already had on my list for them!

So here are my ideas, in no particular order:

(1) Garrick or Oliver
My original idea here was Garrick, as in Harry Potter character Garrick Ollivander (and actually, if Carolyn hadn’t said that Lexington was farther out than they would currently like, I’d probably be pushing Ollivander on them! I love it! I think it totally fits with Lexington in length and feel, and the nickname Ollie is so well matched with Emmett, Collin, and Jude. But then, they don’t like nicknames either …). But then I thought maybe Oliver would be good! There’s Oliver Twist and St. Oliver Plunket, who’s amazing, and Oliver totally fits with Emmett, Collin, and Jude.

(2) Caspian
I definitely think Caspian can hang with Emmett, Collin, and Jude, and its unusual-ness pulls in Lexington a bit more. I also love that that both Lexington and Caspian are place names (Caspian Sea), and of course Caspian is a Narnia name!

(3) Bartlett (or Bartholomew?) (or Bates?)
One of Great Expectations’ Pip’s brothers was named Bartholomew, and I thought that I like Bartholomew for them — it’s got that nice length that Lexington has. Then I was thinking about how the surname Bartlett is derived from Bartholomew, and decided I love Bartlett even more for them! I love it with all their boys’ names, and Bartlett’s Buildings is where Lucy Steele usually stayed when she was in London (Sense and Sensibility), so cool! But then, are Emmett and Bartlett too similar? (I actually had Garrett included in my first suggestion, with Garrick, and ended up deleting it because I thought Emmett and Garrett were probably too similar.) So maybe then the full Bartholomew is a better suggestion. Or maybe Bates? Bates is another surname derived from Bartholomew, which could also work — would Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey count as a Brit Lit character?? But Bates runs into their last name … Gah!

(4) Dig(g)ory
This is another more Lexington-esque name due to uniqueness, but it’s got so many cool literary connections, and I really love the sound of it, so I had to include it! There’s Cedric Diggory from HP, of course, and I’ve read that he was actually given the last name Diggory as a nod to Professor Digory Kirke from the Narnia Chronicles, which is another great reference. But the first time I ever heard the name was in high school when I read Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native — one of the main characters is Diggory Venn. (Also, I’m a huge nicknamer, so I can’t help but say that Dig is a really cool nickname and the name of one of the good guys in the current TV series Arrow).

(5) Sebastian
My last idea is Sebastian. It’s a Shakespeare name and a saint’s name; it’s long like Lexington and I think it also fits in well with their other boys. Some people don’t like alliteration, but I tend to, and Sebastian Svellinger sounds smashing imo. 😊

While those are my “official” suggestions, I did have a few others I considered when trying to whittle down the list, which I thought I’d include here just in case they’re helpful: Austen, Augustine (Austen’s actually a medieval variant of Augustine!), Chesterton (could be cute?), Orlando (Shakespeare and place name), Duncan (hmm … maybe I should have included this on my official list), Kingsley (Kingston was a style match for Lennox, which made me think of HP character Kingsley Shacklebolt), Quentin or Quinlan (for a fifth baby!), Jasper (a style match for Emmett and Jude), Brandon (I looooove Col. Brandon from Sense and Sensibility), Abel (two different Dickens characters named Abel), and Rider/Ryder (the former for the Riders of Rohan in Lord of the Rings; the latter for Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited).

In looking back over my ideas, I feel like maybe I focused too much on connecting with Lexington, which is totally me inserting myself into Carolyn and Craig’s taste, which I really try not to do! (Not too much anyway!) So I hope that this was at least a little helpful!

What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lexington, Emmett, Collin, and Jude?

Baby name consultation: Brit/Italian(/French?) name for no. 4 green bean

Please keep the Cronin family in your prayers, and if you can donate to their post-Harvey rebuilding efforts, they would be so grateful!

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

Grace Christine
Sophia Rose (frequently called Sophie)
Gemma Catherine

I love these names! Grace and Sophia are gorgeous, feminine names that everyone’s currently loving, so I might have expected their third girl to be something like Ava or Emma, and really loved being surprised by Gemma! Such a beautiful sibling set!

Francine writes,

[For girls we] tend to like names that are somewhat traditional, obviously feminine names (no Taylors or Jordans), and something that could be tied to saint names. You’ll see from our older girls we tend toward British or Italian-sounding names. I do have Italian heritage, but with our family name and the fact that we’re now living in the Midwest it’s not very common around here, so I’m less likely to lean toward those since I don’t want our kid having to explain the spelling/pronunciation of her name to everyone for the rest of her life! We don’t mind nicknames, but prefer to keep them pretty close to the original name, and to call them by their first name. When we were deciding on our oldest’s name, we had a hard time coming up with a middle name that worked well — it seemed like everything sounded better with Grace as the middle name, but we knew we wanted to call her Grace. We also prefer names that will wear well over time … I hear so many names that sound cute for a little girl, but it’s hard to think of it when she’s 40 or 80, you know?

I’m sure you’ll notice that we ended up repeating initials with our first and third… it was coincidence only, and we’re not looking to repeat the pattern. We just liked Gemma’s name enough to not change it. We also don’t mind very much if the name tends to be popular (like Sophia’s), because we figured that if we loved the name our kid can be unique enough on her own!

I love that! I totally agree with Francine that “if we loved the name our kid can be unique on her own” — perfect!! That’s the best mindset!!

[For boys we] do have a front-runner from our last time around, but it’s not set in stone and we thought it would be fun to see what you come up with. 🙂

I have a really big extended family that tends to not reuse names, which also complicates things slightly. This isn’t exhaustive, but here are a few that we’ve ruled out:
Charlotte
Celine
Monica
Magdalene
Theresa/Therese
Victoria
Ava
Bridget
Isabelle
Lucia/Lucy
Marian
Cora

Joseph
Jacob
Michael
Leo
Gregory
Clive
Benjamin
David
Joel
Thomas
John
Caleb
Samuel
Lucas
Joshua
Matthew

This was fun to work on! In particular, Gemma adds a twist that was fun to include when I was trying to think of names that I thought might work for this family. I also don’t mind the repeated initials of Grace and Gemma at all, since they have different sounds.

So first I’m going to mention the two girl names that I decided not to suggest (but I think they’re helpful to mention, just in case). This is based on my research (you all know that I look up the names the parents have used and 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) and my own ideas. They are: Tessa (too close to Theresa/Therese? But such a cool way to nod to either saint without repeating a family name) and Charlotte (on their No list, but it was listed as a style match for both Grace and Sophia!). I would love Grace, Sophia, Gemma, and Tessa, and I would love Grace, Sophia, Gemma, and Charlotte! But I can see why they’d say no to both. And Leo and Lucas both made my final cut for boys before I went back and realized that they were on the No list.

Now on to the names that I actually am suggesting!

Girl
(1) Clare
I really like how Francine said they like British or Italian sounding names — I really kept that in mind when I was thinking of names for them. When I saw Claire listed as a style match for Grace, and Clare for Gemma, I thought it was a winner! It’s a similar length to their other girls’ names, and doesn’t repeat an ending, which isn’t the end of the world if it did, but it’s kind of cool it doesn’t (I mean, yes, it ends in E like Grace, but has a totally different ending sound). It’s the variant traditionally used for St. Clare of Assisi, which is where the Italian comes in (her actual name was Chiara, which would be so gorgeous too! And in fact, both Gemma and Chiara are styles matches for each other in that they’re both listed as matches for Gianna), and it’s the English variant (as opposed to Claire, which is the French. Also gorgeous! But if they want English or Italian, I think Clare’s their best best. Although, Grace’s middle name, Christine is also a French variant, and and so is Gemma’s middle name, Catherine, and even though they use Sophie as a nickname, it too is French, which is a nice nod to Francine’s name and a nice theme to carry throughout). (I also love Clara, if they wanted to go with an A ending.)

(2) Anna (or -anna) or Annabel
This was actually my first idea, before I’d started doing any research for them. Anna is one of those beautiful pan-European names that can be Italian as well as having good usage in English-speaking countries, and it’s got that lovely vintagey feel that Grace and Sophia have. I’m just not entirely sure it’s a great match with Gemma — maybe they sound too similar? If so, I wonder if any of the -anna names would be more appealing? Susanna and Julianna come to mind — both beautiful! Or perhaps Annabel?

(3) Felicity
I took special notice of the names that were similar to Gemma, since her style is a little bit different than her sisters’ — not in a bad way at all! They go together so well! Just a little less popular. One that jumped out to me was Felicity — I love Felicity with Francine’s older girls! I did a spotlight of it, including nickname ideas, here.

(4) Juliet(te)
This is another one that’s a style match for Gemma, and I love it because like Clare it’s an anglicization of an Italian name, so it combines Italian and English pretty well I think. If they liked the idea of continuing the French theme, Juliette’s a beautiful spelling too. I did a spotlight of it and its faith connections here.

(5) A Lily name, or Violet
I loved seeing Lily as a style match for Grace, Lillian for Sophia, Lillie for Sophie, and Lilia for Sofia (I looked up Sophia, Sophie, and Sofia, because I thought it gave me the most complete view of its style and similar names). All those variants are amazing! I was really feeling like a flower name would fit in well with the older girls — a Rose name probably would have been my first thought, except that Sophia’s middle name is Rose — but a Lily name is perfect too, and actually Violet was a style match for Gemma, and I love that too.

Boy
(1) Maxwell
I always love seeing names that are listed as similar to more than one name on the parents’ list. Maxwell is one such, being a match for Grace and Sophia. Max is such a great nickname too!

(2) Henry (or John Henry?) (or Jack?)
Henry’s another that’s a match for more than one name — in this case, Grace and Sophie. It’s definitely got that British feel, and there are lots of holy Henrys. When I looked up the spotlight that that link brings you to, I was reminded of John Henry, which is such a darling combo! I know John is on their No list, but maybe a double name would be okay? And all this makes me think of Jack, which I think would also fit in nicely with their girls, either as a given name or as a nickname for John or a John+ double.

(3) Owen or Oliver
Owen is a match for Grace and Sophie, and you know I love it because of St. Nicholas Owen! Oliver is a match for Sophie and Felicity from my suggestions above, and St. Oliver Plunket is awesome. Both Owen and Oliver are great names that I think would go really well with all the girls, including Gemma, since her name has that British vibe as well.

(4) Nicholas or Colin
Nicholas is a match for Sophia and Colin for Gemma and since Colin can be a variant of (or even a nickname for!) Nicholas, I thought they were both swirling around the right area. I especially liked finding a name that was a match for Gemma — I really like Colin. Using the nickname Nico can also skew Nicholas more Italian-ish, if they’d like to do so.

(5) Tobias
I was so interested to see Tobias as a match for their Gemma’s name, and also for Juliet on my list of suggestions for them. I love it! I feel like it’s kind of unexpected, and the nickname Toby is amazing.

Bonus: Timothy
Timothy didn’t show up in any of my research, but it was my first thought for this family for a boy’s name, before cracking open the BNW. It isn’t Italian or French — in fact, it always strikes me as having an Irish feel, as well as of course biblical — but it seemed to have the boy equivalent of the sweetness I get from Francine’s girls’ names. The full Timothy is so handsome; Timmy and Tim are great, traditional nicknames; and I like the idea of Ty as a nickname for it as well.

And those are my ideas for Francine and her hubs! What do you all think? What would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Grace, Sophia, and Gemma?

Names of note on British Baby Names

Happy Monday y’all!! It’s eclipse day! Are your kids as excited as mine?? Since we haven’t been able to snag any of the sold-out eclipse glasses, we’ll probably watch most of it on NASA’s site, but we’re also going to make these eclipse viewers (just waiting for my coffee to brew).

In similarly earth-shaking news, for the first time in a verrrry long time I’m all caught up on consultations and don’t have any scheduled to post! What! So if you’ve been wanting one, now’s a great time!

In lieu of our normal Monday consultation fun, I want to talk about the British Baby Names blog. Are you as hooked on it as I am?? I’ve been keeping it up on my computer all summer and browsing through the birth announcements when I have a few minutes here and there, and there have been so many amazing names that I’ve been keeping a running list to share with you all! Like these amazingly Catholicky Catholic sib sets:

Clemency Jane Frances “Clemmie,” baby sister of Edward Blaise “Ned,” Beatrice Mary “Bea,” Christopher Ambrose Richard “Kit,” Josephine Alice “Posy,” & Mary Assumpta (from this post)

Sebastian Francis Bertram (from this post)

Matilda Agnes, baby sister of Hubert James Raphael, Beatrice Elizabeth, Emilia, Leo John Bartholomew & Helena Adelaide (from this post)

Rufus Benedict, baby brother of Theodora Verity & Harriet Cecily (from this post)

Theresa Eleanor “Tess,” baby sister of Robert John “Bobby” & Francis William “Frankie” (from this post)

I’m fascinated by these Irish and Welsh and names!

Liusaidh Hannah Lesley, baby sister of Ruairidh Joseph Henry & Eilidh Margaret Catriona (from this post)

Gwenlli Fflur, baby sister of Ynyr Alun & Gwern Rhisiart (from this post)

Beca Grug, baby sister of Aron Huw, Erin Gwen & Math Owen (the woman behind the blog, Eleanor, noted that Grug = GREEG “heather”) (from this post)

Nedw Lleu, baby brother of Liwsi Glwys (from this post)

Guto Lloyd & Elen Mair, twin sibs of Awen Mair (from this post)

I liked seeing Evelyn as a boy’s middle (a la Evelyn Waugh): Humphrey Evelyn (from this post).

These were just amazing, for one reason or another:

Henrietta Zillah Iris, baby sister of Xanthippe Phyllis Elizabeth (from this post)

Primrose Ophelia “Posy,” baby sister of Theodora Kate “Teddy” (from this post)

Zinnia Indigo, baby sister of Azalea Primrose (from this post)

Zsa Zsa Hermione Christobel, baby sister of Cressida Lucy Florence, Rocco & Aubrey (twins) (from this post)

Molly Jessica & Pippa Josephine, twin sisters — I love how their first and middles have the same number of syllables, and I love Molly and Pippa together! (from this post)

Tatiana Mary Alexandra, baby sister of Maximillian Randal James, Jemima Honey Frances & Willa Charlotte Moore (from this post)

And speaking of Jemima, beloved of every name lover, I also spotted Jemimas in these posts: here, here.

I really liked the nickname here: John Patrick Carnegy “Jock” (from this post), and was so surprised to see both a Jack and a Johnny in this family: Jack Oliver, baby brother of Johnny Robert, Harry Anthony & Joseph James (from this post). I was also surprised at the number of Montys (two of them here and here) and Jontys (as is, as both a first and middle, here, here, here) — Jonty’s a traditional nickname for Jonathan, and you might remember that I suggested it to Rosie and Tim in this consultation.

I’m barely scratching the surface with all the amazing names listed in the birth announcement posts, and there are also consultation posts too. Such a fun site!

Baby name consultation: Help pick the right combo for baby no. 5/boy no. 3!

(I forgot to let you all know that I was going to be away on vacation last week! So sorry for the quietness of the blog! If you follow me on Instagram, you’d have seen that I got to meet and spend a few hours with Colleen from Martin Family Moments — it was so fun! She was so great! We talked and talked about all sorts of things, just like you do with your dear friends, and her hubby and kids hung out with my hubby and kids, and I got to meet two of her sisters, it was all just really familiar and family-like. It’s hard to make that happen when meeting someone for the first time — it’s a rare gift! Thanks again Colleen! 💕😘)

Christie and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Kolbe David (“After Maximillian Kolbe and David of Wales“)
Isaac Austin (“after a more obscure saint named Isaac of Cordoba with a super cool and relevant story and Augustine of Canterbury“)
Eva Therese (“after Mary the New Eve and Therese of Lisieux“)
Alexis Chiara (“after OL of Perpetual Help – Alexis means help in Greek – and Bl. Chiara Badano“)

Great names, right? I really love all the significance in each one, I love how they’ve incorporated Marian names in unexpected ways, and I love that I’m posting this on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of my very very favorites — happy feast day to Christie’s oldest!!

They have, as Christie put it, “a pretty specific naming schema” for their kiddos, and in fact “already have a list of names to consider, and just need help finding the winning combo” — I’m happy to participate in baby name conversations in any way that might be helpful! And I really love what Christie and her hubs have done so far, and the names on their list. As she explained,

Our kids’ names are like super-infused with meaning, Catholic dork style (and proud of it).”

(Yasssss!!! 👊👏😍)

Our boys are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and another saint who was a first evangelizer of the British Isles that honors their paternal heritage all over that region. Our girls are named after a saint we admire and want them to look up to, and some sort of homage to Mary. We don’t care which name comes first of the two saints, just whatever sounds good.

A few other name preferences:
– We hate nicknames beyond infancy, and don’t want to give our kids names that they will never go by (just ask us: we’re a Christopher and a Christina). Obviously our kids do get nicknamed, but it’s things that won’t stick for forever.
– our last name is Collins, so no Phil, Tom, or other celebrity drinks/people ending in Collins!!! And my husband also threw out Nicholaus because that’s the origin of the last name Collins (I mean… ok, fine, hubs)
– I’m Italian/Cajun/Irish in heritage and we lived in Rome for two years and still study the Italian language and culture as a family. If only Marcellino Collins was, like, even okay-sounding LOL!
– not too obscure of a saint (minimum: must be able to find a holy card or book or something about the guy)

Finally, we want there to be some sort of pilgrimage that makes sense for their saint because our dream is that a high school or college graduation present will be a pilgrimage with just one parent and that child to “their” spot. For Kolbe, that will be Auschwitz, for Isaac it’ll be Cordoba (very southern Spain), for Eva it’ll be Lisieux, and for Alexis, Rome. So far that’s a pretty trans-European experience too.”

I loved reading all of this!! I laughed out loud in several spots, and I also think the pilgrimage idea is so cool.

Continuing,

For the heritage name: we’ve scoured all the early evangelizer saints and let’s be honest…we’re not naming a kid Cunegard or anything without vowels (or entirely composed of them), so it’s a bit restrictive. Here are the remotely good ones.

Aaron
Patrick
Aidan
Finnian
Andrew
Brendan
Kieran
Declan

For the saints-we-look-up-to name, there are lots. Some were tossed out because they were too out there for my husband (Ephrem, Cyril, Cyprian, Fulton). I’ve researched other ways to name a kid after each of them and I’ll include that info.

Augustine (Augustine, but we already used Austin…)
John the Apostle (John)
Gregory the Great (Gregory, Magnus)
Peter Damien (Peter, Damien)
John Paul (born Karol Jozef, Karol means Carl and Charles: John, Paul, Karol, Carl, Charles, Jozef, Joseph)
Ambrose (Gio and Giotto are Italian diminutives/derivatives: Ambrose, Gio, Giotto)
Benedict (established monastery at Monte Cassino: Benedict, Bennett, Monte)
Leo the Great (Leo, Magnus)
Bonaventure (born Giovanni, and he’s the Seraphic Doctor, if there’s anything there, Bonaventure)
Phillip Neri (darn you, Phil Collins, for being famous!: Neri?)
John Bosco (born Melchiorre, Forrest for a play on words – bosco = woods/forest, Bosco, John)
Thomas More (Thomas)
John Chrysostom (John)
Dominic (middle name was Felix after his father: Dominic, Felix)
Francis of Assisi (Francis)
Damien of Molokai (born Jozef: Damien, Jozef))
Francis de Sales (born Francis Bonaventura: Francis)
Peter Julian Eymard (Peter, Julian mayybbeeeee)
Louis Martin (we don’t like Louis, but maybe Martin)
Nathaniel (Nathaniel, Nathan)

Other names we like okay that are also saints:
Blaise
Basil
Luke/Lucas
Jude
Sebastian
Pio
Owen (St. Nicholas Owen)
Oliver

I love how Christie’s mind works! I loved reading all her ideas for naming after saints without using the exact name (who knew Gio and Giotto were Italian variants of Ambrose? So cool!).

I admit that at first I wasn’t sure what I could contribute, since Christie and her hubs have all their names pretty much figured out. But I did have some thoughts, both about the names they already have on their list, and even some new ideas that I think fit in well enough that they won’t hate them.

First off, I totally wouldn’t cross Italian names off their list just because they don’t have an Italian last name! Christie has Italian heritage, and as she said they lived in Rome and still study the language and culture as a family — to me, it would be kind of weird to not include Italian names in their considerations! Christie’s concern about it clashing with their last name reminded me of this post from Swistle, which discussed what her reader called the “Juan Pablo Jones problem,” and which I thought was spot-on. I especially like this bit:

I think it’s unnecessary for [your husband] to bring cultural appropriation into it when what you’re discussing is using names FROM YOUR OWN CULTURES. It sounds as if his concern is that other people will THINK it’s cultural appropriation: that is, if someone didn’t realize your cultural background, they might think you shouldn’t have used the name. I am generally on the side of worrying what other people think and of taking into account the society we live in (I don’t want to give a child a name that will make people think badly of her or of us), but this doesn’t seem like an issue here. First/last-name incompatibility could happen any time the parents didn’t come from the same cultural background, or any time a surname gets married out of usage. It seems like even (or especially) people hyper-aware of cultural appropriation issues would also be aware that the current particular surname doesn’t tell the story of the family background.”

So I’d say, use Marcellino with joy!

Secondly, working with the names they already have on their list, I felt like Finnian and Kieran from their British Isles list seemed like they’d fit well as first names with the other kids. I was also really struck by how many holy Johns they love, and if it were me, I would definitely take that as a sign that John is a slam dunk as a first name. I’ve also always loved that John goes in front of most any name for boys in a similar way as Mary for girls — I think a John ___ could easily go by John or a nickname of John, or the fn+mn as a double name (like John Paul), or the middle name, just like those girls with Mary ___ as a given name have traditionally found Mary, fn+mn, or just the middle name as options available to them that generally don’t raise eyebrows. I know I’ve said this a million times, but most of my dad’s first cousins who are women, as well as one of his sisters and his mom, are all Mary ___, and most of them go by their middle names in real life (signing their names as just their middles, or sometimes M. Middle), or by both Mary and the middle. And John is just the same in my opinion. Perhaps it doesn’t have the long history of use in that regard like Mary does, so maybe others might raise their eyebrows at a John ___ that goes by a double name or his middle name or whatever, but to me it’s an awesome option. I posted a huge John+ consultation post here, which might have some helpful info.

So I love the idea of John Aaron, John Patrick, John Aidan, John Finnian, John Andrew, John Brendan, John Kieran, and John Declan. I think they all sound just amazingly handsome and masculine but not overly macho or anything, just really nice combos. If it were me, I’d be tempted to call them by the double names because I’m so enamored of the John+ doubles! But even if he just went by John, I think they’d be pleased because John is an easy name to use and enforce that no nicknames are to be used. It’s great and solid for a man and increasingly unexpected on a little boy.

I also love the idea of going by the middle names, which I think might be more their style anyway, based on the names they’ve already used for their older kids — Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis don’t have the feel that a family that would choose John for a son would traditionally have, I think. So doing something unexpected with a little John’s name would be more expected in a family that uses a saint’s last name as a first, for example.

But even though I think John makes so much sense, because it honors all the Sts. John they love (and even St. Bonaventure, with Giovanni as his birth name), it does make choosing the patron saint and pilgrimage place difficult — which John would they focus on? Of course they could solve that by using the middle name as the patron and place, which is probably what I would recommend, especially since they don’t have any British Isles pilgrimage places represented yet among their kiddos.

So after swooning over all the John+ possibilities, my attention shifted to Leo, because when I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I was really struck by what a good fit Leo is for this family based on the names Christie and her hubs have already chosen and those they like/are considering: In general, there wasn’t any real overlap among the names that were listed as similar to the names they’ve chosen, BUT Leo was listed as a style match for Eva as well as Oliver, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix — I thought that was pretty significant! I loved the combos Leo Patrick, Leo Finnian, Leo Brendan, Leo Kieran, and Leo Declan, and I didn’t know if they’d be interested in going full Irish, but if so I also love Leo Padraig (a combo I had on my list for a while). They could of course use the middle name to choose the pilgrimage spot, but I looked up St. Leo the Great and his Wiki entry said he was born in Tuscany, which is an amazing place to visit, but not sure *where* in Tuscany they’d go? He’s buried in Rome, but they already have Rome on the list for Alexis … A cool tidbit is that he played an important role in the Council of Chalcedon, and Chalcedon is in Turkey today, so that would be a good option I think.

Looking more through the list of saints they love, I was struck by these things/had these thoughts that might be helpful:

  • I agree about not using Augustine since they already used Austin (which you all probably know is a variant of Augustine)
  • I love that Gio and Giotto are Italian variants of Ambrose, how cool!
  • Love Monte as a nod to St. Benedict!
  • Seraphim is used as a masculine name, which could make a cool middle name as a nod to St. Bonaventure
  • We considered the full Philip Neri as a fn+mn and I really wanted to use Finn as the nickname! If Christie and her hubs didn’t hate nicknames, this could get around the Phil Collins issue, but as it is, I agree with them—no Philip! Neri would be interesting … I also wonder if they would consider Finnian to be a double nod to St. Finnian and St. Philip Neri because of the Finn thing I just mentioned? Or maybe they’re hating my idea of trying to double up saints in one name!! Haha! No worries if so, I never get offended about differences of opinion in naming! And I’m certainly under no illusion that I have all the right answers
  • I love Melchiorre/Melchior for St. John Bosco! I love the idea of naming for the Three Wise Men anyway, and knowing that it also is part of St. Bosco’s name is so cool! It also reminded me of Malachy—I don’t know if St. Malachy fits the criteria they’re using to define “early British Isles evangelizer,” but he was the first native-born Irishman to be canonized, which is pretty cool
  • I wonder if they would be interested in Morey for Thomas More? This family named their son Thomas More and call him Morey, which is also a nod to Great Grandpa Maury (genius!), but I think Morey is a great name on its own and fine as a nod to Thomas More
  • I’ve never seen Felix considered for St. Dominic, very cool!
  • St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis de Sales, being both on their list, would make me want to use Francis as a nod to them both …
  • St. Francis de Sales has such great connections for this family—not only was Bonaventura his middle name, which could also nod to St. Bonaventure, but St. John Bosco was of course a devotee of St. Francis de Sales … again, I’m a fan of trying to tie together connections and honor lots of different people with one name, so I would find this all very inspiring—a way of checking several saints off their list of favorites with one child’s name. I’m not sure what name I would recommend though?
  • I thought of Christie on St. Peter Julian Eymard’s recent feast day; I discussed Julian a bit in my last consultation, which might be helpful?
  • I like Martin a lot, I always wonder why more people aren’t using it!
  • Love Nathaniel
  • I love Pio as a middle name! Ana at Time Flies When You’re Having Babies has a Joseph Pio, which I’ve always thought was an amazing combo
  • I would love to see them move Owen and Oliver from their “so-so” list to their “favorites” list! Oliver’s a style match for Eva, Leo, Julian, Jude, Sebastian, and Felix, and I know an Isaac who has a brother Oliver! I love St. Oliver Plunket. I also know an Isaac with a brother Owen (and a sister Olivia!), and St. Nicholas Owen is amazing!

One final thought I had was regarding an honor name for John Paul — I’ve seen Lolek considered a time or two as a first name, and we even discussed it as a possible “nickname” for Luke! So maybe Christie and her hubs would like to consider it as well? They seem to like the hard K sound (Kolbe, Isaac, Alexis, Chiara, and per their list Patrick, Kieran, Declan, Carl/Karol, Dominic, Felix, Luke/Lucas), and Lolek really does feel like an unexpected Luke.

And those are all my thoughts and ideas for Christie’s littlest guy! What do you all think? Based on all this, what name(s) and/or combo(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis?

Faaabulous Brit Catholic baby, and a fun question

One of you wonderful readers sent me the story of the birth of UK Parliament Member Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sixth baby, and then I saw it all over my FB feed! Everyone’s going gaga over this little guy! And for sure it’s because of his amazing name: Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher!

😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

Indeed, Rees-Mogg is Catholic, as his baby’s name proclaims! (Also, as his sister’s name proclaims — Annunziata!) Little Sixtus is also the sixth baby! According to British Baby Names, he joins siblings:

Peter Theodore Alphege
Mary Anne Charlotte Emma
Thomas Wentworth Somerset Dunstan
Anselm Charles Fitzwilliam
Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius

In Rees-Mogg’s announcement on IG he referred to the big sibs as Peter, Mary, Thomas, Anselm, and Alfred, so no double names or interesting nicknames as far as I know. I love seeing Anselm in the first name spot! Congratulations to the whole family!

This all brings me to what I intended to post today — Cat said in a comment a couple of weeks ago:

I’d love to see a post and comments on the most unique or out-there Catholicky Catholic name people have ever used or known a person with that name.”

I would love to know that too! I’m on my way out the door and can’t martial my thoughts to share my own, but I can’t wait to read yours!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 4 needs first name for middle Shirley or Warren

Caitlin, who blogs at The Burch Book, and for whom I posted a consultation for her third little one nearly two years ago, is having another baby! She and her husband are expecting a little green bean (=gender unknown) 🌱, a little brother or sister for big sisters:

Claire Camille
Margaret Joyce (Maggie)
Beatrice Jacqueline (Betsy)

Not only do I love this set of sisters, but aren’t you dying over Betsy as a nickname for Beatrice?? I love it!

Caitlin writes,

Our process has been to use a saint name for the first name and one of our grandparents’ names for the middle name. We have one grandmother’s name left to use – Shirley. So that will definitely be the middle name if we have a fourth girl. The two girls’ names we’ve talked the most seriously about are Alice and Helen. If we were to have a boy, we would use Warren as a middle name. That is my husband’s middle name as well as his grandfather’s name. The boys’ names at the top of our list are George, Patrick, Henry and James. We also kind of like Edmund and Benedict but those seem a little more daring somehow. I guess the only other thing I would mention is that we will probably stick to names from our own Irish/Scottish/British cultural heritage. I don’t see us naming someone Therese or Lucia (although we would use Theresa or Lucy) … [also] we call our younger daughters Maggie and Betsy and we are trying to avoid that same name ending this time (as much as we love Lucy, Rosie, Annie, etc.).”

I love all the names they’re considering! Alice and Helen seem really well matched as sisters to the older girls, and George, Patrick, Henry, and James are all solidly in the Irish/British/Scottish saintly name category. It’s such a great list of names that I wondered what I’d be able to come up with! Especially since I wanted to suggest names that are new, not just the ones I’d suggested in their last consultation (though I do still love them: Alice, Lydia, Louisa, Eleanor, Violet, Henry, Samuel, Benjamin, Edward/Edmund, Joseph). (Speaking of their last consultation, Caitlin had said back then that they wanted to avoid repeating initials — she didn’t specify that as a rule this time around, and they do have Benedict is on their list, which repeats Beatrice’s B, but I tried to stick to that just in case.)

As usual, I looked up all the names Caitlin and her hubs have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, and I also used Nymbler and the Name Matchmaker. Based on all that research, these are my ideas for this little baby:

Girl
(1) Jane
I think Jane is my favorite idea for them for a girl — Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and Jane strike me as such a perfect bunch of sister names! I think Jane Shirley sounds smashing.

(2) Katherine nicked Kate
This is my second favorite idea for them, and not because it’s my own name! Haha! Katherine was a big style match for them per the BNW, usually spelled Catherine, but the Katherine spelling avoids repeating initials. Additionally, Kate is a great match for Claire, Maggie, and Betsy in my opinion, and doesn’t end in the “ee” sound.

(3) Anna
Anne would have been a natural fit for this family I think, if they didn’t want to avoid Annie. But Anna’s a beautiful alternative, and I think people are far less likely to nickname Anna as Annie than they would with Anne. I kind of like how Anna Shirley echoes Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame, of course) without being exact. I considered whether Anna was too Latinate for their taste, but it has good use in England and Ireland, so I figured it would be okay.

(4) Frances
Frances did well for them in my research, and I really like it as a name, but I’m a little hesitant about it for this baby because I’m not sure Caitlin and her hubs would be able to avoid an “ee” nickname (Francie, Franny, Frankie). If they wanted to be firm and consistent about using the full name though, Frances is elegant and lovely.

(5) Julia or Juliet
I probably would have thought that between Julia and Juliet, Julia was more their speed, but Juliet was a style match for Claire, so I thought I’d list them together. Juliette is very French, but Juliet is actually the anglicized spelling, and I love it with the older girls! I suspect that Caitlin and her hubs might not love that it’s not obviously saintly, but since it’s a variant of Julia, it can take any of the Sts. Julia as patron. I spotlighted the name here, including faith connections. I love Julia too, though I think it might be more likely to nickname to Julie than Juliet would? Or they could do Julia as the given name and Juliet as the nickname (since Juliet is actually a diminutive of Julia), which would allow them to avoid another “ee” nickname.

(6) Eleanor (Nora, Nell), or just Nora
My last idea for a girl is a repeat from last time, but it just kept popping up in my research so I had to include it! They’re already considering Helen, and some people use Eleanor as a variant of Helen (read more about that here), and both Eleanor and Helen can use the sweet nickname Nell, so they might think it’s kind of redundant, except for the fact that Eleanor can also allow for the nickname Nora — I love Nora! Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and Eleanor/Nora are wonderful together! If they prefer just Nora on its own, I love that too, it’s such a great name.

Boy
(1) Robert
There aren’t too many more boy names to add to a list of Irish/British/Scottish-feeling names besides the ones Caitlin has put together already! But Robert immediately came to mind — watching Downton Abbey definitely put it on my radar, and though I’ve previously rolled my eyes at my husband telling me that “Bob” is his name style, I’ve really been feeling the full Robert recently. It’s easy to say, and St. Robert Bellarmine’s a great patron saint. If they wanted to do a nickname, Robbie, Bobby, Rory, and Bert are all possibilities, or maybe something cute like Roo when he’s little.

(2) Oliver
Oliver’s a style match for both Beatrice and Henry, and I feel like both of those names are pretty good representatives of this family’s style as a whole, so I thought Oliver was a great one to suggest! St. Oliver Plunkett’s awesome, and while I love the nickname Ollie, I don’t think it’s necessarily inevitable — the full Oliver is so handsome.

(3) Theodore
Theodore’s a style match for Beatrice and Alice — perfect! It’s handsome and gentlemanly, and the nicknames Theo and Ted(dy) are both great (Teddy can also be a nickname for the Edmund on their list).

(4) Louis
I was so surprised by how well Louis did for them in my research! It’s a match for Beatrice, Alice, Helen, and George! St. Louis de Montfort is great, as is St. Louis Martin.

(5) Timothy
Timothy actually only showed up in the list of names similar in style to Patrick, but I thought it fit their Irish/Scottish/English sensibility so well that I thought I’d include it. It does end in the “ee” sound, as does Timmy, but maybe it’s okay when we’re talking about formal names? And them could do just Tim as a nickname, or even Ty.

(6) Thomas
Finally, Thomas. St. Thomas More and St. Thomas a Becket are notable English Sts. Thomas, and most little boys I know named Thomas go by the full Thomas, so there’s very little risk of Tommy. I think it’s great for this family!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister to Claire, Margaret/Maggie, and Beatrice/Betsy?

Baby name consultation: Traditional, timeless, saintly name needed for boy no. 5

I have this group of girlfriends from college that make up most of my inner circle — girls I lived with, laughed with, cried with, had as bridesmaids in my wedding, and still to this day count as sisters. I’m so excited that today’s consultation is for one of them! Rosey and her husband Brian are expecting their sixth born baby — and fifth boy! (This makes seventeen boys [and only three girls!] among us! Boy no. 16’s birth announcement is here.)

This little guy joins big sibs:

Kenneth Brian
Paul Vincent
Clare Patricia Rose
James Emanuel
Henry Joseph

An amazingly named bunch of kids, don’t you think? 😍

Brian got the ball rolling by writing,

Kate! Help! This baby is never going to be named!

You know our existing names as a starting point. First name should be a fairly traditional, timeless catholic saint name, the middle name can be a little more ‘catholicy catholic’ but not all the way out there (Augustine, Blaise, Benedict OK; but Polycarp or Athanasius would be too much)

We don’t seek to nickname, unless there’s an obvious, traditionally accepted nickname for a particular name, we don’t want to come up with anything new or cutting edge. And we don’t want any nickname to be dependent on the middle name. We do use diminutives at home currently: Kenny, Paulie, Jamie, but we like that each son can take their full first name out into the world ‘as is’ with no problem.”

(This part made me laugh, regarding nicknames: “we don’t want to come up with anything new or cutting edge. And we don’t want any nickname to be dependent on the middle name.” They know me too well! 😂)

Brian continues:

I have some combos I really like, but Rosey is ‘meh’ with (at the moment) 🙂:

Charles Augustine
Mark Augustine
Andrew (w Benedict, Charles or Thomas as middle)

Other first names I think could work, but also not grabbing Rosey:

Thomas
Jude
Anthony
John
George
Steven
Francis

Names excluded for various reasons:

Luke [doesn’t work with last name]
Peter
Michael (though could possibly be used as a middle name)
David

And because it’s hilarious and I’m still laughing about it, there’s this too:

Also, FTR, I gave Rosey a spreadsheet of 73 ‘acceptable to me’ FN/MN combos and asked her to check her top 10-20, but she just put it in the junk drawer and said to skip straight to you. She never likes to take the engineering approach. *sigh*

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

As for Rosey, she said,

I really don’t care for Charles. But I guess names that I don’t totally hate are (in no specific order) blaise, George, mark, jude, Matthew and of course I love the names of the kids we have. I am OK with Augustine as a middle name and I guess Charles would be fine for a middle name too. I probably would go for almost any middle name.”

This is such a fun challenge! I’ve loved watching Rosey and Brian name each of their children, and being able to offer some thoughts/ideas/suggestions for one of them is such a privilege!

So of course there are lots of great ideas here. I’m a big fan of mixing safe with adventurous, like with James Emanuel, Charles Augustine, and Mark Augustine … if they used something like Blaise or Jude for first names, I could see something more staid like Michael or Francis balancing them out really nicely and making them feel more comfortable with the overall effect (not saying Blaise and Jude are crazy, just a little more adventurous than their other ideas and and their other kids’ names … and actually, I love the idea of Blaise for them because they’re into track/cross country — you know, Blaise … like blaze … like super speedy! 😁) But of course none of that is necessary either — safe + safe, and adventurous + adventurous are fine and fabulous!

I admit I tried to think a *tiny* bit outside the box since Henry’s name was a surprise to them last time — it wasn’t even on the list until the end. One of my ideas in particular doesn’t fit their “traditional and timeless” criteria, but I had to throw in at least one like that, just in case!

You all know that I rely pretty heavily on the Baby Name Wizard when doing consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. It’s uncannily accurate! But of course it doesn’t always nail a couple’s style, and the lists of similar names it offers aren’t comprehensive, and it doesn’t always do so great with heavy Catholicky Catholic names. (Which is where I come in. 😊)

Okay, without further ado! Based on all my research as well as names I’d come up with for Rosey and Brian before I even cracked the BNW book open, here are my ideas for their newest little guy:

(1) Timothy
I don’t know if it was intentional (and certainly not with Kenny, since his is a straight honor name), but their older kids’ first names all have a distinctly (to me) Irish/Scottish/Brit feel to them (I know they have other associations as well, I just mean as a group), which is one of the reasons I love Timothy for them. Like their other kids, it doesn’t hit you over the head with Celtic-y feeling, but it’s a popular name in Ireland and with Irish and Irish-American families, so it’s taken on a green sheen. It’s also biblical, saintly, traditional, and timeless. I really love this one for them. And since it’s longer, a shorter middle would make a nice rhythm: Timothy Jude, Timothy Blaise, and Timothy George are all really nice imo.

(2) Fulton
This is the idea I mentioned earlier as being the one outside-the-box name I allowed myself to include. I don’t even know what made me think of it for Rosey and Brian initially, but it came to me the other day and I rolled it around a few times with their last name … I love it! And Ven. Fulton Sheen, who was actually baptized Peter John but called Fulton, which was his mom’s maide name, is such a great patron! I’m loving the idea of Fulton Peter or Fulton John, especially if they want to highlight the connection to him, or Fulton Anthony or even Fulton Francis (I don’t mind the alliteration, though I know some people don’t care for it.

(3) Robert
Robert’s been on my radar for a while now (I think it was Downton Abbey that did it!) — I’ve been loving how handsome and traditional it is, and the nicknames Bobby and Robby have been striking me as really adorable. And St. Robert Bellarmine!

(4) Martin
Martin’s totally traditional and timeless, but you rare hear Martin anymore! It really fits in nicely with Kenny’s name, I think, which I would describe similarly.

(5) Philip
I’m actually not sure how Rosey and Brian feel about repeating initials, but Philip has long been one of my favorite favorites. I love the traditional nickname Pip for it, but I think it’s one of those nicknames that doesn’t grow really well with a boy, so their mindset — nickname at home/with the family, but not outside — is perfect for Philip/Pip.

(6) Gregory
This is another favorite of mine — I always like to quote what the BNW says about it: “Popes, saints, and Gregory Peck! Can a name get any more distinguished?” I love that! Pope St. Gregory the Great is an amazing patron, and the full Gregory is so handsome.

(7) Theodore
I’ll end with seven ideas, and this last one is fun because it reminds me a lot of Henry — Theodore’s an older name that’s popping up more and more, including among parents who also like Henry, and is on a similar curve as Henry in the SSA stats (though Henry’s a bit ahead of it). Theo’s an easy nickname for home, or Ted/Teddy, and the full Theodore is smart and serious.

Though those seven are my main suggestions, I sometimes find it helpful to list the names that didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason, just in case. David was my no. 1 for them for a long time, until they said it’s on the no list! I almost included Daniel (Danny Boy!), Tobias (maybe too out there?), and Nicholas (I’m still thinking it might be a good idea), and Andrew was another on my mind for them before I even saw that it was a contender.

And those are all my ideas for Rosey and Brian’s littlest guy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Kenny, Paul, Clare, James, and Henry?

ETA: I was given permission to include their girl name ideas after I’d already posted, woo! If this baby had been a girl, they planned to use Gemma Katharine, and other girl name combos they like include MaryAlice Veronica, Mary Alice, Veronica Mary, and Veronica Rose.

Baby name consultation: Boy no. 2 (difficult last name and eclectic name taste)

It’s springtime, which apparently means alllll the babiessss!!! 💐💃💐💃💐💃 Buckle up, cause we’re in for a couple of weeks of a lot of consultation posts! Woo!! I have two or three scheduled to post every week until the end of May, and they’re each just as fun and fabulous as the next.

Today’s is for Nury and her husband — they’re expecting their second baby, and second boy! He joins big brother:

Alec Michael

Which I love. So handsome.

Nury writes,

Choosing the name of our first child was difficult, to say the least. Our last name … is long and difficult. All of the boys names in my husband’s family tend to be short and not too exotic (Michael, George, Steven, David, Daniel, Richard). My husband’s name is Sean and we do not want to use that. We also definitely do not want to use Michael. There are a large number of Michaels in both of our families, including Sean’s father and brother. We are open to relatively uncommon names, but they should be easy to say — we want him to have a name that people can recognize and say easily since [our last name] causes so much confusion!

We chose Alec as the first name for our son after months and months of discussion and debate. At the very end, we were nearly set on Thomas Michael (Thomas is the name of a dear friend and mentor to Sean and also two of my favorite saints). We settled on Alec after we met him and decided it would stand as a tribute to my grandfather (whose middle name was Alejandro). Michael was chosen as the middle name in honor of Sean’s father who passed in 2011.

The only name we have seriously considered for this new baby is Thomas again. But I also like the following names: Victor, Becket, George, Patrick, James, and Eric. We are also considering using my father’s name, Marcelo, as a middle name. He passed away last July, a month before we conceived this baby. However, that’s not a requirement.”

I was really impressed both with Alec’s name and with the names on Nury’s list of those they’re considering—they all fit perfectly into her desire to have a name “that people can recognize and say easily” despite being all different styles! Nice job! I also love the idea of Thomas Marcelo, it sounds like it’s full of meaning for them.

I’m going to guess that one of the reasons they had a hard time coming up with a name for their first son is exactly because their taste in names is all over the place—and I say that in a good way! I love eclectic namers—those who don’t fit into any one obvious style. It does make it hard to nail down name ideas though, since there’s no real “place” to go look for more, you know? Like, if a couple loved last-names-as-first-names, then I would know where to look for more. If they loved Irish names, I would know where to find those. You know? On the list of names Nury and her husband have used (Alec) and are considering (Thomas, Victor, Becket, George, Patrick, and Eric) I can see separating them out into the following categories: Scottish/English/Celtic (Alec, Becket, George, Patrick), traditional saintly (Thomas, Victor, George, Patrick), Spanish (Victor, Eric), last name (Becket), and Scandinavian (Eric). But even though I could see grouping a couple/few of them into categories, there was zero overlap in the suggested names in the Baby Name Wizard when I looked up all their names! (You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used/like/are considering in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity.) This is so unusual, and extra challenging!

I don’t want any of you to think that any of this is bad though! And it seriously increases the fun for me, I love love a good challenge!! 😊 One thing I did notice in terms of a theme or style that, once I noticed, became really obvious to me, is that they really like names that have the K sound in them: Alec, Victor, Becket, Patrick, and Eric. Even Alec’s middle name, Michael. Out of the eight names that they’ve chosen or like, six have the K sound in them! I think that’s more than coincidence, and I used that idea to come up with a few names that I thought might fit into the various categories their names fall into:

(1) Dominic
Dominic has that K sound at the end, and can take nicknames that include it too, like Nick and Nico. It’s saintly, and I think it works well in Spanish as well as across all the European countries, including Ireland, the UK, and the Scandinavian countries.

(2) Nico
Speaking of Nico as a nickname for Dominic, why not Nico as a given name? It’s one of my favorites—short and snappy and masculine, and I like that it has four letters like Alec. I think it’s easy to say in various languages, and St. Nicholas can be patron.

(3) Nic(h)olas
And speaking of Nicholas, I wonder if they would consider it as a first name? I like both the Nicholas and Nicolas spellings, and I think most people think it’s easy to say.

(4) Cole or Colin
Still (unintentionally) continuing with the Nicholas theme, Cole is a traditional nickname for it, and it can also stand on its own as its own name. My husband and I actually considered it for one of our boys! Colin is also a traditional diminutive for Nicholas, though it’s most well known as a name in its own right. It was actually listed as a style match for Alec in the BNW, though I’m not sure it fits Nury’s “easy to say” criteria well enough? Most people I know say COLL-in, but others are more familiar with Colin Powell’s pronunciation: COLE-in.

(5) Kolbe
And jumping off of Cole, Kolbe is also inspired by Becket on their list in that it’s a saintly last name (St. Maximilian Kolbe). I’m just not sure if it’s as easy to say as they’d like? I mean, I don’t know if most people who see it know it’s said KOLE-bee right away?

(6) Mark, Marc, Marco, Marcus
I wondered if they’d be interested in using a variant of Nury’s dad’s name as their son’s first name, similar to how they did with Alejandro –> Alec? According to behindthename.com, Marcelo is a variant of Marcellus, which was originally a diminutive of Marcus. In light of that, any of the Marcus variants seem like they could work to honor Nury’s dad, if she felt like they were close enough to her dad’s name. And changing from Marcelo to Mark/Marc/Marco/Marcus pulls in that K sound that they seem to like. Marc was also listed as a style match for Eric.

(7) Kevin
Kevin was listed as a style match for Eric, but I would also say it’s similar to Patrick because of being an Irish name, which also makes it fit in well with the UK/Celtic feel of Alec, Becket, and George. It’s a saint’s name as well.

(8) Cooper
This is another one, like Kolbe, that was inspired by Becket—it was actually listed as a style match for it in the BNW. One of you readers knows a little Cupertino, for St. Joseph of Cupertino, and he goes by Cooper—I think that’s so clever!

Those are all my suggestions based on the idea that Nury and her husband might prefer names with a K sound in them, but don’t worry, I have some other ideas too! Like:

(8) Andrew or just Drew
Though behindthename says Alec is an English short form of Alexander, babynamewizard and others say it’s the Scottish form of Alex(ander), which is definitely the vibe I get from it (not the only vibe—Alec works well with lots of different kinds of names I think). James on their list is another name that can have a Scottish feel to it, and I’m not really sure why—maybe because of King James?—but I have a friend who married a Scot and they named one of their boys James, which made so much sense to me. Anyway, all that to say, Andrew is another name that has a similar feel. St. Andrew is actually the patron of Scotland, and there’s St. Andrews University there, near the town of St. Andrews. If they didn’t like the full Andrew, I think its nickname Drew can stand on its own, and pairs really nicely with Alec.

(9) Charles, Carl(o)(s), Karl
Charles is a style match for Thomas, George, and James, and it’s one of those names that works in all different languages and cultures. Carlo is a nice option as well, as is Carlos (which was a style match for Victor), and Karl has that Scandinavian feel that I get from Eric. A nice bonus is that all these names can take St. John Paul for patron, since his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish form of Charles. (There are also lots of other Sts. Charles, if they want to go a non-JP2 route.)

(10) Miles or Milo
If you’ve been reading my blog long, you’ll likely know that I love the name Miles and push it on lots of parents! 😁 It’s used in Ireland as an anglicization of the Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary”—so Miles is a Marian name! It’s also a style match for Alec, and is similarly nickname-proof. If they don’t love how the S in Miles runs into the S of their last name, but they like the idea of Miles, maybe they’d prefer Milo? It also has use as an anglicization of Maolmhuire (if that’s important to them). If they didn’t care for the double M of Miles Marcelo or Milo Marcelo, I quite like Miles Thomas and Milo Thomas.

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