The blog is 3! Story, photos, and a giveaway ❤

You guys! Today’s my blogiversary! Three years ago today I posted my very first post!

As I was approaching my first blogiversary two years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing of the blog and all of you and all the wonderful things that have come out of this sweet little space, and since St. Anne is the patroness of the blog, I decided to visit a St. Anne Shrine to thank her for her intercession and to pray for all of you. My wonderful husband helped me pack up our six boys for a day-long pilgrimage to Isle La Motte, VT, which wasn’t the kind of thing we ever really did back then, but it was so important to me to mark the occasion in an appropriate way, and the day turned out beautifully.

Last year, for the second blogiversary, we visited the St. Anne Shrine in Sturbridge, MA, which was a little farther away than Isle La Motte and came with its own set of pilgrimage-type suffering, but it also was just a perfect way to celebrate the day.

This year, we decided to go even farther away (mostly because there wasn’t any closer St. Anne Shrine), and we were originally planning on going this coming weekend, but sort of last minute decided to go this past weekend — school ended Friday and we left right afterward to go to Scranton, PA, where the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Ann is. How cool! St. Anne has her own national shrine! It has an amazing history.

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First I have to back up and say, since it was such a long drive we decided to stay overnight, so our plan was to spend Friday driving to the hotel and swimming in the hotel pool, and going to the Shrine on Saturday. Have any of you ever used the web site Six Suitcase Travel? They provide info on places for families of 5-8 to stay together in one room (as opposed to broken up into two hotel rooms, which is what we always have to do), and when I saw TownePlace Suites in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as one of the places they recommend, I was sold! So fun to see my name on the hotel. 😁

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(Beautiful, beautiful country, and up so high!)

They didn’t actually have any of their big rooms available, so we had to go the two-room route, but they put us next to each other (never a guarantee), so that part worked out well. I admit I was feeling a little bit like we weren’t being pilgrimage-y enough, since we were staying at a hotel and swimming, etc., but God finds a way! His mysterious ways! And His sense of humor! As we were checking in we were informed that their pool was closed for that night only. 😒 Fortunately they’d arranged for their guests to use the pool in the neighboring hotel, so all we had to do was go across the parking lot, but, you know, it just made it that much less easy. Fortunately the next morning their pool was open again, and they had a noon check-out time!, so we thought we’d enjoy the complimentary breakfast in the the hotel, swim for an hour, then check out and go to the shrine. Which we did, but I’m thinking the chlorine levels were extra high in the pool because of having just been cleaned? Because the boys were wailing with pain for the next couple of hours, no joke, despite rinsing eyes in the shower and the sink, and their eyes were still red and puffy at lunchtime. Poor kids. All we tried to do was have a little fun! 😭

Anyway, so we went to the Shrine, and I was trying so hard to bring my mind to a prayerful, pilgrimage-y place, despite the wailing children and my son (the one who threw up during the car ride on our St. Anne trip last year) looking at me with a green face and saying, “Mom?” while hiccuping (he didn’t get sick, thank goodness). I was thinking of you all and all your intentions, and how grateful I am for all of you and all of this.

My goals when I go on these trips are threefold: (1) to visit the church and say my prayers, and also to light a candle if possible; (2) to take some pictures; (3) to go to the gift shop. So (1) turned out to be impossible, because there were baptisms going on in the church at the exact time we were there — I peeked from the vestibule through the inner doors to see if we could go in, and there were a bunch of people right in front of those doors, so we didn’t even get to see the inside of the church. Can you believe that? We only had a certain amount of time carved out to be there, so we couldn’t wait for the baptisms to be over. And there were candles in a little grotto next to the church, but the gate to them was closed and locked.

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(See the gated area on the left? With the boxes stored behind the gate? That’s where the candles were.)

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(Close-up of one of the many gorgeous St. Ann (they spelled it without an E there) and Our Lady statues. I love the throne.)

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(The front doors of the basilica.)

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(A side door. I loved the words above the door. ❤)

Number (2) worked out okay — I took a bunch of pictures, including some of the many, many dedicated benches and bricks, as well as the different statues on the grounds.

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(You know I loved seeing all the names, and I was so moved by the devotion and gratitude to St. Anne for her intercession. ❤)

(One guess as to what Frank X.’s middle name is. 😉 And I loved sweet Husband Robert’s gift to his departed wife.)

I’m going to post the pics of the saint statues on Instagram — I’ll have them up by the end of the day!

And (3) was a total bust as well — though there were no hours for the gift shop listed on their web site, there was a sign on the door saying it closed at noon on Saturdays. We were there at 12:45.

It felt a little silly that the entire point of our trip was to visit this shrine, and most of what I wanted to do there wasn’t possible. But we did offer our family rosary for the intentions I wanted to pray for: For all of you and your intentions; for your babies both living and deceased; for those who are hoping for a baby, and those who are struggling with parenthood; and in thanksgiving for all of you and the blog and all that’s happened because of it.

We also added something to our trip that felt meaningful for our mission — my maternal grandmother was Anne, and when St. Anne — grandmother of Jesus — made herself known as the patroness of the blog, I immediately thought of my own grandmother Anne, and how cozy and homey it always was with her, which is how I think of us all together. My grandmother, who went by Annie and whose actual married name was Annie Oakley, is buried in a tiny rural cemetery next to a tiny rural church in a tiny rural Pennsylvania town (google maps had a hard time finding it!). The last time I was there was when my grandfather was buried next to her twenty two years ago, and with a slight adjustment to our route we could stop there on the way home.

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(David X. and Annie. One guess what my grampa’s middle name was. 😉)

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(We said some prayers. Those little folded hands. 💕🙏 My uncle is also buried there — my grandparents are on the left, my uncle on the right, both with flags.)

We also stopped to have dinner with one of my sister-friends, which was wonderful, and we pulled into our driveway around 11pm that night. What a trip!

I’d really wanted to get something for you at the gift shop — something for a giveaway — and I was really intrigued by the St. Ann oil I read about on the Shrine’s web site. But instead, I’m delighted to give away three St. Anne chaplets from HandmadeCatholicShop on Etsy. I really love that the shop gives “quarterly donations to both the Catholic Church and American Troops overseas” — how wonderful!! To enter the giveaway, just click here — the giveaway will run until midnight on Friday, and I’ll notify the winners via email on Saturday! 🎉🎉🎉

St. Anne, pray for us!

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Annie Oakley and her mom

My grandmother’s on my mind today, as this was the day she died twenty six years ago. Her name was Anne, which I’m sure is one of the reasons St. Anne feels so grandmotherly to me (that and, you know, the fact that she is The Grandmother of God. Nbd). 😂

Not only was her name Anne, but her married name was Oakley. Yes indeedy, my grandmother was Annie Oakley! I had this book growing up:

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And my grandmother was similarly blond and blue-eyed, so she and Annie Oakley were always intertwined in my mind! 😄 I called her Mimi, and we were quite close.

Her last birthday card to me. 💕 I always loved her handwriting.

Anyway, I was thinking about her today and thought I’d enlist you all in helping find out more info about her mom. My mom and I have been looking for a long time and haven’t come up with much, and you all have so much life experience and relationships that could lead to the info we’re hoping to find! So here’s her story as we know it:

She was brought to what is now known as New York Foundling, an orphanage founded in 1869 by the Sisters of Charity, in August 1910 by a woman who said she was her mother. My grandmother was about two weeks old, and her mother signed a paper saying she’d return for the baby in one year (she never returned). She signed her name “Mary Ferguson” and gave the baby’s name as “Anne Lewis,” and said that the baby had been “born at home,” giving the address as 112 West 62nd Street. The Sisters had her baptized by a Dominican priest, Fr. Wilson, O.P., from nearby St. Vincent Ferrer church. All this info was given to us by the NY Foundling from their records.

Mom and I decided to find 112 W. 62nd St. on a trip to the City, only to discover that Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus is now on the site. I did some more research and determined that the Twelfth Regiment Armory was on that site in 1910 (between west 61 and west 62 on the west side of Columbus ave; built in 1886 and demolished in 1958), so I don’t know what that means — a bogus address probably? I did look at the census for 112 EAST 62nd St., just in case, which was a residence, but no Mary Ferguson or anyone by the last name Lewis living there. There were a bunch of apartment hotels close by 112 W. 62nd St., the Century Theatre was a block away on the same street, and several houses of prostitution in the surrounding blocks, all of which paint a picture, to me, of an area in which a girl could easily find herself unmarried, pregnant, and alone. Thank goodness she knew to go to the Sisters! My grandmother was adopted at the age of two and went on to have a life that led to my grandfather. 💕

I’ve spent countless hours online, both on Ancestry.com (I have many many times gone through the 1910 census records looking for any Ferguson or Lewis at that address [doesn’t exist in the census] or surrounding streets) and doing internet searches of various kinds. I’ve looked at census and immigration records for Mary Ferguson — it doesn’t help that it’s got to be one of the most common names in NYC at that time! I even looked at the signatures on a bunch of immigration records, trying to match them up with the the signature Mary Ferguson left on the document she signed at the Foundling (no luck).

One fun bit of info is that I hired a professional genealogist who found that there was a 22-year-old named Mary Ferguson living at the Foundling, listed as a servant, when the census was taken in 1910! Could be a coincidence, but maybe not! I never thought to look at their census records, I love knowing that bit of info. So if she was 22 in April 1910, she would have been born in 1888 or 1889. The genealogist didn’t find any other info, but did confirm that the 12th Regiment Armory was at that spot, though its address would have been Columbus Ave. as its front faced that way.

It would be amazing if any of you read this and thought, “Hey! That sounds like this story I heard from my family tree!” Or maybe you’ll think to mention it to someone in casual conversation who will perk up and say, “That’s my great-grandmother’s exact story!” You never know!

Special for you, on the feast of St. Nicholas ❤

Happy feast of St. Nicholas to you all!! Isn’t it fun to have this little taste of Christmas a few weeks in advance? 🎅🎄🎁

Last night, on the eve of the feast, I finished a novena to St. Anne, in which I included all of you, with special mentions of those of you who are moms and dads or who want to be; those of you who are struggling with infertility, or struggling with taking care of the children you already have; for your babies here on earth and in heaven; and for any of you who aren’t married and would like to be. St. Anne is, after all, the patron of:

  • against sterility
  • childless people
  • expectant mothers
  • grandmothers
  • grandparents
  • mothers
  • pregnancy
  • pregnant women
  • women in labour
  • unmarried women

among other things (here and here).

This is the novena I used (though I read it out of my Mother’s Manual, which I can’t recommend highly enough, it’s a treasure), and I always love how it says,

Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted

It gives me such hope to know St. Anne’s prayers for us don’t end with the end of the novena, but continue until our requests are granted!

I have another gift for you all: today I’m opening my consultations back up! 🎉🎉🎉🎁🎁🎁 Thank you all for your patience!

I’ve spent the last couple of months finishing up the consultations I already had, as well as trying to figure out the best way to go from a donation-based system to a fee-based system. I think I have it figured out pretty well, and while I’ll no longer be doing them for free, I really wanted to be sure that no one feels like a consultation’s outside their budget if they really need help. So, here’s the deal:

Ordinary Consultation: $50
(“Ordinary,” like “Ordinary Time”! 😂 #liturgicalliving)
An Ordinary Consultation is basically what my consultation posts look like — thorough and full of ideas. Specifically:

  • minimum 5 names for each gender (or 10 for one gender only)
  • guaranteed delivery of consultation within 3 weeks of your email request (or by your due date, if you’re due sooner than 3 weeks from when you email me)
  • if I miss that 3-week deadline (due to the unexpectedies of being a mom or other unforeseen circumstances), I’ll refund half your money and do the consultation as soon as I can
  • guaranteed public post before your due date if you’d like one (I’ll post them on non-Mondays if all my Mondays are full); private consultations are also fine

Mini Consultation: $25
A Mini Consultation consists of:

  • 3 names for one gender only
  • guaranteed delivery of consultation before your due date (I’ll let you know how long I think it’ll take when you email)
  • a Monday post if available (if desired; private is also fine)

I’ve taken down my “Donate” button, and will send invoices instead, so if you’d like a consultation, please email me to let me know which one you’d like and your details (names you like and/or are considering; names of your other children; any other relevant info), and I’ll send you an invoice via PayPal.

Financial Aid
One of the things I like the most about the invoice system is that PayPal allows for invoices to be paid in installments, which is one way of helping make the consultations more affordable — you can pay as much or as little as you can until the full amount has been paid. (Be sure to let me know in your email if you’d like this option.)

I’m also happy to discuss alternative arrangements on a case-by-case basis, based on need — I don’t want anyone to feel excluded, Catholic name consultations are for everyone after all, just like the Church! 😁 — so please don’t hesitate to email me and see what we can work out!

Gift certificates are also available — I can make them up as needed (deliverable via email) if you’d like to give them (or receive them!) as gifts.

I thank you all for your enthusiasm and confidence in regards to these consultations! I’ll be grateful until the day I die that something I’ve loved for so long (i.e., names, and thinking of ideas for other people) is actually of value to others, and I feel blessed beyond measure that I’m able to share my love of our faith through my blog. ♥♥♥

Happy happy St. Nicholas Day!!

A giveaway for the Feast of St. Anne!

Happy Feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne!! 🎉🌹🎉🌹🎉🌹

Today’s the last day of the Novena to St. Anne, which I offered for all of you. ❤ I was particularly struck by these words from the prayers for yesterday:

“… O Saint Anne, you whose name signifies grace and mercy …”

She’s such a great saint, and the perfect patroness for the blog!

I wanted to do another little giveaway for you all as a way of celebrating this feast day, and I’m delighted today to be giving away handmade goat milk soap from Robin’s Soap Shoppe!

Robin is an Army veteran and single mom (as she told me, “I very proudly served my country for eight years, and now three of my children have or are serving as well”) who struggles with debilitating anxiety and arthritis. She’s been making goat milk soap for years — I’ve gotten it for my own home and for gifts for family members and friends and my boys’ teachers at Chrismas — it’s beautiful, luscious soap and I’m delighted to be giving away today:

One “Icky Yucky Hands & Super Gardening Soap – lightly scented” bar (approx. 5 oz). Robin says,

When you’ve just finished making a huge mess in your kitchen and your hands are beyond yucky, this is the perfect soap! If you’ve been outside, working in your garden, this soap is wonderful for getting the ickies off your hands. If you enjoy getting your hands dirty, this is your new favorite soap. Layers of lavender buds, rose clay, kelp, coffee grounds, calendula – an amazing soap that smells pretty darn good, too. Scented with rosehips and jasmine. 100% naturally colored.”

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(That one’s my own personal favorite!)

One “Baby Yourself with Lavender” bar (5-6oz.). Robin says,

This is a 100% goat milk cold process soap that is lightly scented with lavender … Goat milk soaps are just scrumptious for your skin! Baby your skin and enjoy the light scent of lavender, too. ❤ “

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And two of these “Mint Chocolate” 3 oz. flower clusters. Robin says,

Oh.My.Word. The most perfect dark chocolate paired with the most amazing mint. I had a feeling this one was going to be good, but, oh MY, it is just scrumptious!!

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So four soaps in all! One Icky Yucky Hands bar, one Baby Yourself with Lavender bar, and two Mint Chocolate flower clusters. Is it weird to want to say Mmmmmmm about soap?? Because that’s what I always want to say in regards to Robin’s soap! I’m so excited for whoever of you wins this!

This Beautiful Soap from Robin’s Soap Shoppe Giveaway will be for today only (until midnight tonight) — just click on that link to enter and for fun, I’d love to know what your favorite Ann- name is, and/or if you’ve heard any interesting or unusual Ann- variants! (But it’s not mandatory — you can enter without doing so. 🙂 ) (And if you want to place an order of soap on your own, whether you win the giveaway or not, I know Robin would appreciate it!)

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed feast day! 🎉🌹🎉🌹🎉🌹

Some more fun things (St. Anne, sibsets, books)

First, our reader Shelby sent me this amazing photo:

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With this note,

Recently went to Vienna and went to a string concert at St. Anne Church. Their tabernacle was kind of unique and it says Anna at the top (picture attached). The website shows a nice picture of their St. Anne statue. www.annakirche.at

Made me think of Sancta Nomina and how in many European churches the patron saints name or statue is right on the altar. St. Stephen’s in Budapest is particularly impressive. En.bazilika.biz

Can you see it there? “Anna” in the middle of the rays? So cool!

While we were on vacation in my parents’ lake cabin last week, I came across old issues (like over ten years old, yes we are that kind of family) of the Franciscan University alumni magazine with these great sibsets shared in the “Class Notes” section:

J0hn
Mary
Rach3l
Th0mas
Jac0b
Sarah
Clar3
(I was particularly impressed that they have a Mary, Sarah, and Clar3, as I think we’ve talked before about whether or not these names are too similar for sisters? I think they’re great here)

M0lly
P3t3r
Nathan
Abby
W!ll!am
J0hn Paul (new info for the John Paul entry on the Sibling Project page!)

M!chael
R3g!na
D0min!c G!les (both names given — could this mean it’s a double name?? 😍)
Gabr!3l
Mar!a Ver0n!ca (ditto D0min!c G!les)

I’ve also wanted to do a couple book reviews recently, but I’m just not getting to them and I want to alert you to them in case you’d like to know about them. First is African Saints, African Stories: 40 Holy Men and Women by Camille Lewis Brown, Ph.D. It was an interesting mixture of saints that I’d forgotten were/don’t think of as having been (or were likely, though not known for sure) African, like Sts. Augustine, Perpetua, and Felicity, as well as those I do know, like Sts. Josephine Bakhita and Charles Lwanga and Companions and Bl. Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi. There are several also listed as “Saints in Waiting” — those of African descent who led exemplary lives and may someday be canonized — and one of them particularly caught my eye today for a totally different reason. Sr. Thea Bowman took the name Thea upon entering the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration for its meaning, “of God,” and in honor of her dad, Theon. Theon! Anyone who’s familiar with the horrible character Theon in Game of Thrones will be as interested to see this tidbit as I was.

Another book, which I’d gotten for myself for Mother’s Day 😁 is The Name Therapist: How Growing Up with My Odd Name Taught Me Everything You Need to Know about Yours by Duana Taha, author of the Duana Names column at Lainey Gossip. It was really sort of half memoir about growing up with an unusual name, and half textbook teaching the reader all the namey things Duana’s learned and her opinions on it all, all of which goes back to the particular ways her life/interests/perspectives have been shaped by having been given an unusual name. I enjoyed it! It was definitely the most unusual “name book” I’ve ever read. Sort of like all the commentary of the Baby Name Wizard and another of my favorites (because of the commentary), Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma: And 10000 Other Names for Your New Millennium Baby, without any of the name lists.

Finally, I got Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints by Colleen Swaim with my preteen and his quickly-growing brothers in mind, and though I’ve put it where I know they’ll see it and be likely to pick it up (the, ahem, bathroom), I haven’t yet asked them what they think of it. I’ll get back to you when I do!

That’s all for now, folks! 😀

Happy 4th of July! And the giveaway winner!

Happy 4th of July everyone!! 🗽🎆🗽🎆🗽🎆

At Mass yesterday I was so struck by the lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, especially the first verse:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.”

And these lines in other verses:

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet

Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave

So moving and beautiful!! (Full lyrics here.)

Also, our dear reader Grace (red hair) visited the St. Anne Shrine in Arvada, CO yesterday and told me she said a prayer for all the Sancta Nomina readers! How wonderful! She took this picture of Our Lady, and said how she loved that the rosary looked as though it were made of real/dried roses.

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So lovely! Thanks to Grace for the prayers! 💒

Okay! Moment of truth! The winner of the St. Anne peg doll + gift certificate from SaintAnneStudio is …

Lee T.!

Congratulations!!!!! 🎆🎉🙌🌹(I’ll email you!!)

I hope you all have a wonderful Independence Day!! 🗽🎆🗽🎆🗽🎆

(I’ll post this week’s consultation tomorrow).