Birth announcement: Jeffery Sherwood!

I had the privilege of doing a consultation and birth announcement for Lily’s first baby, and a consultation for her second as well. She’s let me know that her baby boy was born over the winter and was given the perfect name … Jeffery Sherwood!

Lily writes,

Your consultation was great, and helped us come up with his name. My husband didn’t necessarily consider the name going together until he read the consultation. He wanted to use [his name] Jeffery and was open to the middle name being the child’s name we call them. And that follows the same pattern we have with Twiggs. I asked for the family tree and the name Sherwood jumped out at me. I thought it sounded like a name that would go well with Twiggs … [So he is named] Jeffery Sherwood [called] Sherwood or Wood … or if you are Twiggs you call him baby brother … [and] Woody which I think is cute too.”

Siblings Lucy Twiggs and Jeffery Sherwood, called Twiggs and Wood/Woody and including such special family names, are just a perfect sister-brother pair!!

Congratulations to Lily and her husband and big sister Twiggs, and happy birthday Baby Sherwood!!

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Jeffery Sherwood with his big sister ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Spotlight on: Magdalene

I’m embarrassed to say that a mama asked for a spotlight on Magdalene back in August, which I promptly and excitedly added to my list of future spotlights, and then … it’s now March 20 in the Year of the Coronavirus (which of course doesn’t supplant this year’s — and every year’s — designation as the Year of Our Lord), and also the Great Lent of 2020, and I’m sorry it took seven months and a global crisis to help me find the time and presence of mind to sit down and do it.

The mama who wrote to me worried that her Protestant family members would be horrified at naming a little one “after a prostitute,” and also what reception the moms of Magdalenes have had with the name? She also had the impression that it’s a name mostly used by Catholics, and wondered if that was accurate.

So first, the prostitute thing: Though it’s traditional to think that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, there’s actually no evidence to suggest that she was. BUT even if she was — no one bats an eye at naming boys Peter, even though he denied Jesus. Or Paul, even though he had Christians put to death. Or Augustine and Francis, even though they had a dissolute lives before their conversions. Bl. Bartolo (Bartholomew) Longo was a satanic priest. The point being: All of us are sinners, including the saints, and if we only named children after sinless people, we’d be left with only Jesus and Mary. Also, Mary Magdalene has so many good things! She was the first person Jesus appeared to when He rose from the dead. St. Thomas Aquinas called her “Apostle to the Apostles.” As that article I linked to above puts it,

Mary Magdalene is the first among the women following Jesus to proclaim Him as having overcome death. She is the first to announce the joyful message of Easter. But she also proved she was among those who loved Him most when she stood at the foot of the Cross on Mount Calvary together with Mary, His Mother, and the disciple, St. John. She did not deny him or run away in fear as the other disciples did, but remained close to Him every moment, up to and including the tomb.”

She’s a pretty amazing model for a little girl — and everyone — to follow! In fact, Pope Francis elevated her memorial to a feast day in 2016, which, “he said, was done in order to emphasize the importance of this woman, ‘who so loved Christ and was so greatly loved by Christ.'” I wrote about it at the time in this piece for CatholicMom.com; her feast day is July 22.

As for how moms of Magdalenes have found others’ reactions to the name to have been, I too am curious! I see it quite a bit in the families I work with, both already given to older daughters and on lists of names parents are considering for babies-on-the-way, and the mama who wrote to me asking for the spotlight is the first of all those I’ve encountered who have mentioned Mary Magdalene’s spurious reputation. I think I would have heard from others if the reception is negative? Please, moms of Magdalenes, share your experience!

As for whether it’s primarily used by Catholic families — I don’t know actual stats, but I did include it in my article of unmistakably Catholic names, as I’ve had a similar impression. Do you agree?

Okay, now to the name: Magdalene is SO beautiful! I love all its variants as well, both spelling (Magdalen, Magdalyn) and language (Madeleine, Madeline, Magdalena, Maddalena, Magali, and more), as well as its short forms and nicknames (some of these are traditional, some are possibilities): Maggie, Magda, Malena, Lena, Maddy, Molly, Dolly. What a gorgeous, versatile name! Did you know Marlene Dietrich’s given name was Marie Magdalene? Marlene was a mashup! We know Magdalene means, “of Magdala” (a town on the Sea of Galilee), and Magdala is said to mean “tower” in Hebrew, sooo … since Tower of Ivory  (in Latin: Turris Eburnea) is one of the titles of Our Lady, maybe something like Magdalene Ivory or Madeleine Eburnea could do double duty and nod to both of these wonderful Marys!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Magdalene, especially any real-world experience you have with it! Happy Friday everyone!!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Levi Nathaniel!

I posted a consultation for Cassandra and her husband back in October, and she’s let me know her baby has arrived — a little boy given the fantastic name … Levi Nathaniel!

Cassandra writes,

We welcomed our green bean — a sweet baby boy (boy #3 for us!) on November 2nd. We chose the name Levi Nathaniel. As I had read your name consultation back in October, you made a passing reference to “Levi” being an alternative to Matthew. It immediately struck a chord with me. I really didn’t think my husband would like the name, but I mentioned it to him anyway. To my surprise, he said he liked the name as well and we began to throw around middle names to pair with it. Our top contender for a middle name was Nathaniel. This was a nod to a close college friend of mine who is now a priest. He comes from a family of four boys and I’ve become close to his mother as well (she is actually the godmother of my daughter). So we went into birth with two boy name combinations — Levi Nathaniel and Jonas Matthew. The latter had been on our list since the last baby and I honestly assumed that would be the baby’s name if he was a boy. Well, Baby IS a boy and I had no idea which name to choose. For whatever reason Jonas did not fit him. I can’t explain it, but it wasn’t him. My husband felt the same way so we settled on Levi Nathaniel. It is totally not a name I thought we’d end up with going into this, but I love it. I think people were surprised (mostly in a good way) with our name choice. My best friend here said to me when Levi was a couple of weeks old, “He’s definitely a Levi and not a Jonas.” I completely agree. Another note, Big Sister now insists that “St. Levi” is her favorite.”

I just love this story! I always love to hear how parents settle on *the* name, and it’s always fun when the end result is a surprise even to the parents! I’m also tickled that my mention of Levi was helpful — I do try to include as many of my thoughts as possible in consultations, even if I’m not sure they’re quite right, *just in case*. And it’s pretty awesome that Cassandra had already said, “I feel like we tend towards more traditional names, but I feel like this baby needs something slightly different. Not too out there, but not overused either.” Levi Nathaniel is perfect!

Congratulations to Cassandra and her hubby and big sibs Thomas, Theresa, and David (and Nadia in heaven), and happy birthday Baby Levi!!

Levi Nathaniel with his big brothers and sister ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Felicity Colette!

A mama and I had messaged each other a bit last year about her baby girl on the way, and she’s let me know that her sweet baby has been given the so-beautiful name … Felicity Colette!

She writes,

I just wanted to let you know that we named our rainbow baby Felicity Colette. Felicity because one of our quints was named Felix, and Colette just because I liked the name and I knew it was a Saint’s name. After her birth, we learned that both Saints Felicity and Colette are patron Saints of expectant mothers 💕🥰 She’s a very happy and sweet baby, so the name fits her well.”

What a gorgeous combo!! Both Felicity and Colette are fantastic names!! Also, you might have caught that she said “one of our quints” — this mama lost quintuplets late in pregnancy before this baby, so little Felicity is certainly as much of a happy blessing as her name suggests. ❤ ❤ ❤ The quints were named Felix Joseph, Damien Anthony, Dominic Alfonso, Sophia Therese, and Gabriel Francis.

Congratulations to the parents and big sister Cecilia Giselle, and happy birthday Baby Felicity!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Lolek Augustine!

A couple of years ago, a mama messaged me asking about the name Lolek — the nickname St. John Paul II had gone by as a child. She and her hubby had almost decided to use it for their baby-on-the-way, if they had a boy, and just needed a little encouragement, which I was happy to give!

After last week’s post about saintly nickname names, I got this message from her:

Your post today reminded I forgot to tell you we did indeed name our son Lolek Augustine. He’s 2 now!

Ahhhh how fun to get this update, and about such a great name!! I asked about it a little more and she said,

We love the ‘aha’ moment when people realize who his name is a nod to. The people who get it right away are few and far between, and it feels kind of like an underground code name. We love it!

An “underground code name”!! That’s so fantastic!! I’m so glad for you all to see a real-life Lolek — maybe he will “encourage a surge of Loleks,” as his mama put it!

Congratulations to this little guy’s parents and big brothers Jude Maximilian and Eli Sebastian, and happy (belated!) birthday Lolek!!

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Lolek Augustine


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Magnus Craig!

I posted a consultation for Amy’s fourth baby back in October — the third consultation I had the privilege of doing for her and her hubby, after having done one for their second baby (and his birth announcement) and their third baby (and her birth announcement). Now I’m delighted to share that her baby BOY has arrived and been given the handsome name … Magnus Craig!

Amy writes,

No overly complex name story or meaning for this one, like the others. We just liked it best.

We still didn’t really have any solid name ideas when we arrived at the hospital (I was induced). After he was born I couldn’t shake the Magnus idea. I stayed quiet about it and asked my husband his ideas. He replied that one had come to mind and had a look like — I think you know what it is and I bet it’s what you are thinking too, even though I think he said something like “You might not like this”. But yep, we acknowledged that we were both thinking Magnus. We still tried to think of others, testing them to see if anything else fit but quickly discarded that. We were too drawn to/ stuck on Magnus. We had almost used it for Kane and it was just still with us.

So then came the task of the middle/second name. I liked the flow of James Magus best and I would love to honor my wonderful father, as we did my mom in Molly and I felt we already honored his dad in Kane. But … we decided that we really wanted to call him Magnus and thus it really should be in the first name slot to do so — instead of going by the middle again like Kane does, because that can be a pain, although works for his situation as ‘the second’. Marty had kept throwing out the idea of Craig as a middle the whole pregnancy and was pretty stuck on it. So Magnus James or Magnus Craig or Magnus __? <– probably another one syllable name, we tried like every one on a one syllable boy name list … Magnus Craig won out because it just flowed the best of all and Marty had wanted it all along. I gave it to him, as I felt I got the first name I wanted. So I ended up I feeling like we both Named him and I named the last 2 while he named the first 2.

He might have nick name potential with Mag or maybe Mack from the initials MC — I think of like last names McIntosh. Kristy has taken to calling him Maggie, one of your girl suggestions haha, which always makes us cringe and correct her because it’s a girl name, sigh.

I like the uniqueness of his name and reactions we get with it. I suddenly notice it around now and love it. It really does fit him and our family well. ♥️”

I loved reading all of this!! I love that Amy said they just liked Magnus Craig best — that’s perfect!! I’m so interested in the nicknames too — Mag and Mack
are both great (the Maggie bit made me laugh! I can totally see that! It’s so hard not to add an -ee sound onto the end of babies’ names!).

Congratulations to Amy and her hubby and big sibs Kristy, Kane, and Molly, and happy birthday Baby Magnus!!

Magnus Craig with his family ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Michael Gabriel! (And a nickname question)

I posted a consultation for girl names for Dana and her hubby back in October, but they ended up having a boy! Dana let me know that they’ve named him after his dad — the so angelic … Michael Gabriel!

She writes,

Just wanted to let you know that we gave birth to our baby boy on Wednesday, Jan 22, the national day of prayer for the unborn. We did name him Michael Gabriel, after his father 😀 7 lbs, 3 oz and almost 21″ long. So far the transition from one to two seems to be going well! So we weren’t able to use any of the beautiful suggestions for girl names this time, but hopefully we’ll have many more opportunities!

Michael Gabriel is such a handsome, heavy-hitting combo!! And I, too, love the significance of a baby born on the national day of prayer for the unborn!

Dana had another question, which you all can help with:

One little dilemma I thought I’d ask you about… So my husband goes by Mikey, his dad goes by Mike. My husband really wants to call our son Mikey, too, but I think it is too confusing to have two Mikeys running around, haha! I’d like to call him Gabe, and I think he looks like a Gabe 😉 But my husband isn’t keen on it now. So even though it was easy to name him, we still haven’t decided what to actually call him! Of course we could use Michael or Gabriel, but we both really like nicknames. Another friend suggested, ‘Mick,’ any other ideas? No worries if not- just thought I’d ask!

Of course I have some ideas! 😀 I can certainly see how two Mikeys can be confusing! There is a precedent for it — it’s not for nothing that Seniors and Juniors are sometimes known as “Big Dan” and “Little Dan,” for example, so Big Mikey and Little Mikey could be cute, but if Dana’s not feeling it, maybe:

— I’ve sometimes suggested Miles or Milo as nicknames for Michael, both because of the “Mil” being contained in “Michael,” and because behindthenamesays that, while the origin of Miles is unknown for sure, it’s been associated with the Latin miles, meaning “soldier,” for a long time. I love a “soldier” nickname for Michael — the warrior angel! Additionally, both Miles/Myles and Milo have been used in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — a legit Marian name for a boy! My only hesitation with Miles is that it’s got similar letters to big sister’s name, Mary Elise … but since she always goes by Elise, it’s practically no issue at all, right? (Unless it bothers them, in which case maybe Milo would be better?)

— Maybe Mitch? Behindthename says Mitchell is derived from Michael, and with the first three letters of Michael being “Mich,” Mitch definitely seems doable.

— Maybe a different nickname for Gabriel? I’ve seen Gib and Gil, both of which I love.

— Maybe a mash-up nickname for Michael Gabriel? Like … Mel? Hm. Maybe this idea doesn’t work so well with Michael Gabriel.

— Maybe Junior? Or a name that nods to him being a Junior/the Second? I did a quick search for nicknames for babies that are The Second and saw Twain, Dewey (like for the French “deux”), and Chip (like “chip off the old block”). Or a name for a Third, since both Dana’s husband and his dad are Michael? Like Trip, Tripper, Trey, Tres/Trace.

— Or a nickname unrelated to his name? Like Buddy?

I don’t mind Mick — I have an uncle named Michael whose family has called him Mick and Mickey (though he’s Mike to the rest of the world). One thing to be aware of is that Mick has a history of being used as a derogatory term for the Irish, but that same link includes a list of men who have gone by Mick (including Mick Jagger) so it can definitely work! There’s also Mickey Mantle (a pretty great example) (his given name was actually Mickey!) and Mickey Mouse (which may or may not be an appealing example of the name).

What other ideas do all of you have?

Congratulations to Dana and her husband and big sister Elise, and happy birthday Baby Michael!!

Michael Gabriel with his parents and big sister ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!