Birth announcement: Fiona Therese!

If you haven’t already, be sure to read my Mother’s Day post (there’s a giveaway)!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived — a little girl given the gorgeous name … Fiona Therese!

She writes,

You did a consult for me a few mos ago. Our children are Cecilia Rose, Ian Michael, Anneliese (pronounced the German way) Claire, Aidan John, Eva Marie, Francis Martin. We didn’t know the sex of the baby … We narrowed it down to Josiah Patrick for a boy. Aaaaand: we welcomed a baby sister, Fiona Therese. Fiona is a cute name I have liked, but had forgotten til you reminded me! Celtic but spellable and pronounce-able. Therese for the Little Flower, which also allows us to use flower or rose nicknames. (Rosemary was top in the running for a long time.)

Such an amazing sibling set!! I love all the names, and Fiona Therese is such a fabulous addition to the family!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Fiona!! 🎉🌹

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?

Birth announcement: Rowen James!

I did a consultation for Haley and her hubs a while ago, and she recently updated me on the name they chose for their handsome little guy — the equally handsome … Rowen James!

She writes,

I reached out to you for help naming my second son back in 2015. He ended up coming two weeks early (even though I KNEW this was a possibility, I wasn’t expecting it!), and all new baby craziness broke loose before time slipped by into regular life, and for that I apologize. I had wanted to write and let your know what names we ended up choosing, but it took another Patton Post to remind me–almost two years later–to get with it!

As a reminder, we wanted the name to have some family connection and we wanted it to match his older brother, Miles Howard. We were still pinning down names when he was born, but we went with Rowen James. The “Rowen” spelling a nod to a family surname Bowen (as opposed to the more traditional “Rowan”–I went the rounds on that), meaning “little red” . I was sold on it after he came out with red hair, also to match his brother! The  name James is after his grandfather.

Of course, after all is said and done, I’ve come to see that Rowan is becoming a trendy indie name for girls (why?! WHY?), but I had not idea that was the case at the time. Oh well. It’s not like he’s a boy named Sue, right? 😉

Thanks again for all your help and input into our name. You really likes James at the time, and I’m glad we went with it.”

Well I think Rowen James is an amazing name, and I love all the layers of meaning! The spelling being a nod to a family surname, the meaning of the name, and the fact that the baby actually did (and does!) have red hair — perfectly perfect!!

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and big brother Miles, and happy belated birthday to the dashing Rowen! (Could he be any more adorable??)

unnamed

Rowen James

Baby name consultation: Short call name would be great for baby no. 4/boy no. 2

Meghan and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, and second boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Benjamin William
Mae Elizabeth
Rose Elizabeth

I really really love these names — classic and handsome for Benjamin, sweet and vintage-y with Mae and Rose, all so great together!

Meghan writes,

We are going to seem like the pickiest people! It took us 9 months to agree on my sons name. For some reason my husband and I can’t do boy names. We both also have a ton of male relatives we don’t want to duplicate. We want to avoid any name starting with S or ending with y or i. I think it sounds funny with our last name. For the middle name we want to use Paul (my father and brothers name) but we could also do William (shared middle name with brother Ben since the girls have shared middle names). It would be kind of nice if the name could have a shorter nickname like we have Ben, Mae, and Rose. No name that could be a boy or girl name like Cameron, Morgan etc. In general we don’t really want a top 25 name if we can avoid it (even though Benjamin is in the top 25, we were desperate) and nothing too trendy either.”

Names that they like but don’t love or agree on:

Aaron
Adam
Connor
Ian
Brian
Mitchell

And names they can’t use:

John
James
Leonard
Christopher
Matthew
Nicholas
Richard
Thomas
Andrew
Eric
Charles
Anthony
Joseph
Robert
Joshua
Daniel
Patrick
Dominic
Lucas
Vito
Ryan
Jackson
Walter
Carter
William
Mason
Paul
Michael
Alexander
Elijah
Everett

Whew! You all know I love a good name challenge, and having all those names off-limits is challenging!

To start, I really love their one-syllable “call name” theme — Ben, Mae, and Rose are fabulous together, and remind me of my own family growing up —
the three oldest (I’m the oldest, then my two brothers) are Katherine, Benjamin, and Jonathan, but we always went by Kate, Ben, and Jeb. So of course, not only did we all go by one-syllable nicknames, but Benjamin’s also in the mix, so one of my very first suggestions for Meghan and her hubs is Jonathan! I’ll explain more below.

I also really like the names they’re considering — in particular, Aaron, Adam, and Connor seemed most similar to the vibe I get from Benjamin/Ben, and Ian, Connor, and Brian add an interesting touch of Irish/Celtic that I found inspiring.

You all know that I usually start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and came up with the following ideas:

(1) Jonathan
Not only did I immediately think of Jonathan because of my brothers, but also because, according to the BNW, Jonathan is a true style match for Benjamin, as well as Adam and Aaron. It’s long like Benjamin, and has a couple of one-syllable nicknames they could consider: I assume Jon is not an option, since John was on their list of names they can’t use (and I should note that John and Jonathan are not actually linguistically related), but they could do Jack, or Nate (“Nathan” is the last part of Jonathan), or take a page from my parents’ creative nicknaming book and call him Jeb! Jonty’s also a traditional nickname for it, which is kicky and fun. And if they went with Paul for the middle name, they could do JP, which are pretty amazing initials! 😉 Jonathan fits their “no top 25” rule as well, being #48 in 2015.

(2) Nathaniel (or Nathan)
I love Nathaniel for this family — it’s another style match for Benjamin, and similar in length, and it’s got the great nickname Nate. Its popularity is perfect for Meghan and her hubs too, being #97 in 2015. Nathan is a trimmer Nate name, and also biblical, and a little bit higher on the popularity charts (#38).

(3) Thaddeus
Thaddeus didn’t show up as a style match for any of their kiddos’ names or those on their list, but it’s long and biblical like Benjamin and has a bit of an old-timey feel like Mae and Rose, and can take the one-syllable nicknames Ted and Tad, so I thought it was worth a mention.

(4) Charles or Caleb
Charles is a style match for William and Rose (and was #50 in 2015), and Caleb (#37) is a match for Aaron, and though they don’t seem related they can both take the nickname Cal, which I’m loving with the other kids!

(5) Patrick
Connor, Ian, and Brian on Meghan’s list inspired me to add Patrick to my ideas. It was listed as a style match for Brian, and I’ve heard some really cute nicknames for it that can fit in with Ben, Mae, and Rose: certainly there’s Pat, but also Patch (like in this family), and I’ve seen Packy also, which can trim down to just Pack (like Jack) or even Pax.

I also had just another couple quick thoughts: If they were open to backing into a given name from a nickname, Gus was one of the names listed as a style match for Mae, and I loved it for this family right away! There are a few ways they can get to it: There’s August (#195), Augustine (#820), and Augustus (#467), as well as Angus and Fergus (neither in the top 1000), which tap into the Irish/Celtic feel of some of the names on their list. Or they could get crazy and just use Gus no matter what the given name! I know that’s probably too crazy for most people, but it’s fun to know that nicknames don’t have to have obvious ties to given names. I knew a little Gus growing up whose given name was actually John, and I know a little Gregory who goes by Duke and a Gerard who goes by Sam. Lots of possibilities!

There were also a few names I really wanted to suggest, but they didn’t make the cut for one reason or another, but just in case they’re helpful I wanted to list them here:

Gabriel (SO great as a brother to Benjamin imo, and the nickname Gabe is great! But at #22 it was just past their “no top 25 rule”)

Samuel (very similar in popularity to Gabriel, at #23, but I love it with Benjamin and I adore the nickname Sam! But it begins with S, boo)

Henry (it’s #29 and the nickname Hank was making me swoony with the other kids, but Henry breaks their “no ending in y or i” rule)

Timothy (I thought this was an amazing “bridge name” between their biblical style and Irishy style — it’s a style match for Patrick and Brian, and it’s biblical as well, and Tim is such a great nickname. Also, it’s #147! Alas, it ends with a y)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Ben(jamin), Mae, and Rose?

Baby name consultation: Middle name for Molly

Kate and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — and third girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

McKenna Veronica (“Her name is the one most rife with meaning. McKenna is my MIL’s maiden name and my husband always wanted to name his daughter McKenna. Veronica is my confirmation name, my nana’s confirmation name and my nana’s mother’s middle name. Plus, I love St. Veronica. We call her Kenna/Kens/Kenny, her grandpa calls her McV.”)

Emily Grace (“We both liked Emily. And Grace is a nod to my husband’s uncle who passed away the year she was born. His first name started with “G”, plus she was born at time when our family needed (and received) some graces. She is most often called Emmy or Emmy Grace.”)

Benjamin Patrick (“We both liked Benjamin, and McKenna, who has speech delays, could say “Ben” perfectly. Patrick is my husband’s first name, and it’s also my Godfather’s middle name. Ben and my Godfather share a birthday, and, as it turns out, were born at the exact same time of day. My husband and I had a deal that if Ben was born on my Godfather’s birthday he’d be Benjamin Patrick (Pat wasn’t too keen on using his own name in any of the naming process), if he was born any other day he would’ve been Benjamin Daniel. He is most often called Ben or Benny, sometimes I call him Benji.”)

I love these names! I also would absolutely use McKenna as a first name if it was my MIL’s maiden name! McKenna Veronica is a stunning combination, and the nicknames they have for her (McV!) are super cute. Emily Grace and Benjamin Patrick are just wonderful.

Kate writes,

[We] have decided on the name, Molly, but we are stumped for a middle name. … [regarding] Molly, we have both always liked it, Pat was flipping through a name book this time around and saw it on the list we had jotted down for when we were expecting Emily. We both have Irish roots (my nana was mostly Irish and would have LOVED to know that one of her grandkids traded in the Polish family surname for a nice Irish name), and I like the “M” letter/sound connection she will share with her sisters.

As for middle names, I’ve been throwing around Anne and Amelia as middle name ideas.

I like Anne because I have an Aunt Ann(e) on either side of my family (one of whom is a favorite aunt), and I like the connection between the Blessed Mother and her mother – St. Anne being her mother and Molly being an Irish form of Mary (if I’m not mistaken). I’m not entirely sold because it’s also the middle name of one of our nieces, and while I think there’s less stigma about “stealing” a middle name, I’m not sure I want to stick with it. I also feel like the name as a whole is missing a little something.

Amelia is my great grandmother’s name, and also the middle name of a very dear cousin from that same side of the family, who is also my Aunt Ann’s daughter. Pat did not like Amelia when I suggested it, but sometimes he needs time to let a name soak in. The other problem is that I have taken to sometimes calling Emily “Emilia” as sort of a weird nickname, so it might make it not work. Still, I think Amelia is a front runner for me as it’s a nice way to honor that side of my family and my cousin – unfortunately my cousin’s first name would not go with Molly at all.

I’ve been stumped for other ideas though, it seems that every time I try and research it, the same list of middle names comes up and they all feel a little flat to me. I find that I feel like with a simpler name like “Molly” the middle name should be a little “bigger” or “heavier” – especially because sometimes I think there’s a stigma about Molly being a little girl’s name.

We don’t really have any real naming trends, I think we tend to go for the more classic, middle of the road (popularity-wise) names. We are kind of bummed that “McKenna” has turned out to be so popular and trendy, as for us it was a meaningful rather than trendy name. Although, honestly, I think McKenna is as “weird” as I would get!

What else? Molly’s due date is my Godmother’s birthday (she is married to my Godfather and has joked about me having Molly at the same time of day that she was born). Her name is Mary Ellen (and she is VERY Irish, so she is thrilled with the name Molly – plus, again with the Molly/Mary connection). Molly’s also due near Pat’s grandmother’s birthday. Her name is Barbara Sandra … Maybe there’s a “B” or “S” name I haven’t thought of as a way to honor her.

We both really like the name Lucy, but know too many Lucy’s in our friend’s circles. Pat also really likes the name Riley, but that’s the name of a friend’s (male) dog, so I couldn’t do it. :-)”

This was fun to work on! I chuckled when I saw Anne on their list—my sister is Molly Anne, and I’ve always thought that combo sounds so natural and lovely together. Kate is absolutely right that Molly is a Mary variant—it started as a nickname for Mary—and Molly Anne is a beautiful Marian+St. Anne combo with a nice Irish feel. I’m interested that she’s worried about using her niece’s middle name—I’ve never heard this perspective! Certainly I’ve heard horror stories about “stealing” a first name (though I vehemently disagree that anyone can own a name!), but I’ve never known anyone to be upset about sharing middle names, especially as middle names are most often used to honor family members, and multiple family members might want to honor a beloved grandparent, for example. My grandfather had an unusual first name (it was his mother’s maiden name), and there are loads of boys in the family that have it as part of their names (first or middle), including one of my sons, my uncle, two of my cousins, and my brother. All of them have different first names, so it works, and it’s so fun and family-ish to see so many with the same middle name, honoring the same beloved man.

However, feeling like “the name as a whole is missing a little something” is a totally different issue! From that perspective, I wonder if using a longer Ann name might help? Molly Annabelle, Molly Annabeth, Molly Anastasia, and Molly Anneliese are all ideas that might fit the bill. Or, putting Ann(e) on the end, maybe Molly Julianne or Molly Susanne (or Susanna(h))?

Amelia is a lovely name, and with such nice family connections! I can see how Kate might not like having one daughter sometimes called Emilia and one with the middle name Amelia, but families do that kind of thing all the time. I posted a birth announcement recently for a little Claire Marie-Therese whose big sister is Julianne Clare. The mom did have a hard time with it for a while, but came to think it was pretty cool (especially after finding out her husband’s family had a bit of a tradition doing that kind of thing). If Kate and her hubs can’t get past it though, I wonder what they might think of Adelia? My cousin has a little Adelia — she says it to rhyme with Amelia, and calls her Delia for short (which would also be a cute middle for Molly).

I love that Molly’s due date is Mary Ellen’s birthday, with the Mary-Molly connection, so wonderful! As for Barbara Sandra, Sandra is, in origin, a nickname for Alexandra and the Italian variant Alessandra, both of which would be gorgeous as middles for Molly. I would just advise finding out ahead of time if Barbara Sandra be honored by that, or if she would feel like it’s too different from her name — different people have different feelings about things like that.

I wonder if, given how they like the name Lucy, they might be interested in something like Molly Lucille? Or, combining with Anne, Molly Lucianne? Or are they too L heavy? And they would probably knock Lucy out for the future, which would be a bummer—it’s a great name, and Kate and her hubs might find that they don’t care so much about all the Lucys in their circle.

Riley’s a sweet name, and I actually know a Molly Reilly (first+middle), but given that Kate’s already sensitive to some people’s opinions about Molly being a little girl name, it might be too singsongy for them.

In which case, I think going for something longer, with gravitas, is a good idea. I think all the ideas I’ve suggested already can fit into this, and these are some others:

(1) Katherine
Maybe it’s because Katherine’s my name, but I’ve always loved Katherine (or Catherine) as a middle name for a shorter first name. A Molly Katherine could also go by Molly Kate sometimes, which is adorable, and such a nice nod to Kate herself.

(2) Elizabeth
Molly Elizabeth has a really classic feel to it, I love it! There’s also the nice Mary+St. Elizabeth connection, which calls to mind The Visitation.

(3) Caroline or Karoline
Molly C/Karoline has a lovely rhythm to it as well. Caroline has long been one of my favorite names, and I’ve seen Karoline used with some frequently recently for St. John Paul II, as his pre-papal name was Karol. (Caroline can also honor him, as Karol is the Polish for Charles, and Caroline is a female variant of Charles.)

(4) Rebecca
I have no idea where the idea for Rebecca came from—it just flew into my head while I was writing this, and I’m digging it! Molly Rebecca is really pretty!

(5) Victoria
I also really like the idea of Molly Victoria. Victoria is so elegant and regal sounding, and flows so nicely with Molly. I love its connection to Our Lady of Victory, and Molly Victoria makes it doubly meaningful.

(6) Seraphina
This one is a little more out there, but Seraphina’s a gorgeous, feminine name, and it also can point to Our Lady in her title Queen of Angels, so Molly Seraphina has that double Marian oomph. This could also serve as a nod to Barbara Sandra, because of being an S name.

(7) Bernadette
Speaking of using initials to honor Barbara Sandra, Molly Bernadette is gorgeous and saintly and Marian AND a B name! For Barbara!

(8) Roisin, Rosheen, Rosaleen
If they wanted to make Molly’s name super Irish, they could do like this family and name her Molly Róisín (Roisin is Irish for “little rose”). Róisín can be spelled without the accents, and is pronounced like Rosheen, which is a spelling they could use instead, if they liked the idea. It also made me think of Rosaleen, which has such a pretty Irish feel without the spelling issues of Róisín/Roisin.

Finally, just for all of you readers in case it’s helpful, I normally would have suggested perhaps finding another family surname that could work in the middle, especially since they already used one for McKenna, but Kate said the other family names are too hard to work with pronunciation/spelling-wise.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What middle name would you pair with Molly?

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!