Tuesday, September 10, 2013

'Tis But Thy Name That is My Enemy

We have a new niece!  Phil's brother and his super-hero, homeschooling, all natural laboring wife had their 7th baby last weekend!  Her name is Joanna Clare and she's pretty much the cutest and chubbiest baby I've ever seen:

Their other kids all have Irish names (Maura, Gavin, Liam, Maeve, Rory and Finn) and so when we heard this baby was Joanna, it threw us for a little loop, but I researched the name like the good geek namer I am, and found out it's English (so close enough!) and means "God is gracious".  How beautiful is that?

Why am I so obsessed with other people's kids names?  Because I put waaahaay to much pressure on myself when naming our babies.  I do not want my child in therapy later because I named him Taylor and then he went to school and all the other Taylors were girls.  I mean, sure, my children will probably be in therapy, blaming their mother for something else, I just don't want it to be because of the first decision I ever made for them.

It wasn't this complicated when we had our first baby.  After getting the chance to see Pope John Paul three times, I told Phil (who was only my boyfriend at the time) that I was naming my first-born son John-Paul and once he married and impregnated me, he was totally cool with that.

But it was all down hill after that.  Andrew came next, and his name was supposed to be Andrew Philip or Emily Margaret.  Andrew is my favorite boy name, and my paternal Grandfather.  Emily is Phil's favorite girl name.  Their middle names were passed down from our names.  Perfect, right?  Except that while I was pregnant my Uncle Pauric died and he was such a good and holy man, that we decided Andrew would become Andrew Pauric, not Andrew Philip.  He was born and aptly named, and then we found out that Uncle Pauric's real name was Padraig, but he always wrote it as Pauric.  So we named Andrew after a misspelled nickname.  Oy.

The third baby, upon finding out the gender for the first time before birth, sent us in a loop to come up with yet.another.boy.name.  I had a cousin named Eamon growing up, and I adored the name but Phil was never sold on the idea.  We settled on Brendan (another cousin) instead, but then I had a dream where Brendan was born and then died, and I woke up in the middle of the night yelling "We can't name our baby Brendan!!" I realized I could repackage Eamon as Eamon Philip to make it more attractive to Phil, and he eventually caved.  Smart man.  Only problem with Eamon's name is that not everybody is Irish (shocking!) and he gets called Eeeeeemon or Eeeuhhmon on the regular.  It's pronounced Aymon, like Damon. I think that might be the last time we use a mostly unrecognized Irish name again.

Fourth pregnancy and the first girl later, and we had TOO many options!!!  There was Emily again, but Andrew should have been Emily and so it felt wrong to reuse it.  I loved the Irish name Niamh (pronounced Neve) but after the Eamon mispronunciations, didn't think I could force that on an other offspring.  We were really leaning towards Evelyn, with Evie as a nickname.  And then Phil's best friend's sister had her 4th baby and first girl and named her Evelyn.  Well, we couldn't be copycats.  I really wanted to pass down the name Margaret since it is my middle name, my mom's name, and her mom's name.  And even though I detest the name, I love the nickname, Maggie.  So, Maggie she would be.  Rose would be her middle name after the white rose that young Colleen had prayed her future husband would give her so she would know who to marry (which Phil totally followed through on!).  As soon as she was born, I panicked and said to Phil that we needed to have Mary in her name in case she was our only daughter (a foreshadowing, methinks) and so she became Margaret Rosemary.

Are you all still reading?  This is getting long....

Oh boy.  Literally. 5th baby was going to be another boy who gosh-darn-it needed a name.  You know the problem with being married to a teacher?  They know too many kids with names (as opposed to kids without names??).  Anything I would suggest, Phil would have an immediate dislike:

How about Alexander, that's an awesome name, and we could call him Alex? 
   Nope, I had a kid named Alex Martin in my class.  

What about Christian?  
   I can't have a son named Amen and Christian and be a religion teacher.  

Perhaps Jacob?
   No, he's a bad student.


I had been doing some reading on Father Solanus Casey and thought the name Casey would be so cute.  Phil actually agreed!  So I would rub my belly and call him Casey and all was right with the world.  Until it wasn't.  In the same week, both Phil and I encountered a Casey that was (wait for it...) a GIRL!  I refuse to give my boys a girl name.  I will, however, give my girls a boy name.  I don't know either.  It just seems cruel to have a boy with a possible girl name but cool to have a girl with a possible boy name.  

So with about a month left until the due date, we finally came up with two names for our baby boy.  If he had dark hair, he would be Alexander Blaise (nicknamed Xander so as not to be confused with Phil's former student).  If he was a towhead, he would be Joseph Benedict.  He was born, had dark hair, and was appropriately named Xander B.

And here we are in this name game dilemma again.  How does this keep happening?  Ohhhhh, riiiiight.

Between Phil's knowledge of too many bad or annoying students, my hormones making me like far-fetched names, and our general opposing views on names anyway (he likes more traditional, Saint names...I like more Irish, non-traditional, non-Saint names - because how are we going to ever create new saint names unless we name our kids non-saint names?) this naming a baby thing is way more work than fun.  

I'm trying (and failing miserably) not to think about it too much until we find out the sex of the baby so we can at least eliminate half the names in our arsenals.  But just don't be surprised if this baby ends up being Colleen or Philip because we just plain old give up by the end.  Maybe we'll go really crazy and let the kids name him/her.  That should be interesting :)


  1. Didn't I send you an email with the new baby's name? I'm pretty sure I did. Well, since pregnancy brain is what it is, I'll repeat it:
    Coyote Ignatius Martin (boy)
    Coyote Lucia Martin (girl)

    Boom. Done.

    1. Yes! Perfect names! Cari gets to name ALL THE BABIES!

  2. Names are hard!
    We had the hardest time settling on a boy's name this 3rd time and it never felt right ~ I'm now convinced because Caitlin was sending out bad vibes at being named anything else but Caitlin.

  3. lol and thats why we have a patrick for our 3rd son (after dad) because we gave up! Oh my! I am with you on the names thing. I love love names and even go to name sites even when I am not pg, r4ead name books all the time, fantasize about names, so this post is so up my alley.

    I almost named one solanus casey...and I was gonna name a girl it too--it seems it could go either way....but I was gonna do Solana Casey. Yet I could conceivable do Casey for a boy too.

    My husband is soooo opinionated about names too. He knows so many people and so many ex girlfriends and so many oohh we can't pick that one its weird etc....

    If it was all me, my kids names would have been: Caitlin, Sean, Seamus, Padraig or (Colin, Brendan, Shane or Ciaran), (still have a Sofia tho in there--she couldn't have been anyone else), Keira and Casey. But their names didn't become those names for a number of reasons--mostly my husband. So all their names are compromise names. He refuses to consider anything that is not blatantly a canonized saint since he thinks the saint will protect them or something. I wanted a Sinead--but he hystercially laughs at the thought that he would EVER allow any of his children to be named Sinead O'Connor (sorry but there are plenty of Sinead O'Connors out there, especially in Ireland, that aren't horrrible) and I love the names Aoife (which he thinks is weird) and he almost caved on Aisling for a middle name.

    If there is a next one--I have no idea.

  4. Still reading...love the name game! With our last two I definitely felt what a huge responsibility comes with the naming, so it was so much harder for me. We actually took turns naming the kids so we didn't argue (of course the other always had the power to veto!) But when our daughter was born after three boys, it was my husband's turn, and I said, I'll take this one! That's why she ended up with two first names: AnneMarie!

    Happy name hunting!

  5. Oh my gosh...this was fun to read. :)
    I say you let the kids put names in a hat and then draw one out. But, please, don't let them watch any weird cartoons that week.
    Did you know I was supposed to be Colleen?? At the last minute my dad heard the song "Suzanne on a Sunday" and I was born on a Sunday.
    Now that I think about it, that 'Suzanne" in the song might have been a 'working girl'
    Also, since I'm making this comment about me, my Dad was the 11th Jacob Philip in our family! Yikes.

    Good luck!

  6. Hah! I had never thought of the Eamon/Amen thing, but I've spent plenty of time on the South Side of Chicago. Pretty funny.

    I think girls are way easier to name. We still haven't really settled on a boy name for this one, and usually I have it all decided within weeks of finding out I'm pregnant.

  7. Oh...The name dilemma...as a teacher, I had the same problem...after 5 years, it was impossible for me to not think of my cutie pie students when I thought of a name. Add that to the fact that my first was the 20th grandchild on Steve's side and therefore most names were taken.

    But I have never been one for common names. Or nicknames. When Madison was born almost 17 years ago, her name was quite uncommon. And of course, I burst into tears in the hospital when one of Steve's nieces called her Maddie. And it never happened again.

    So, basically, I am no help. You will know when that sweet soul is placed in your arms. : )

  8. Congrats on your new niece! Her adorable pic is easing the pain of the Redskins' loss last night just a little. My husband and I also LOVE Irish names. I totally agree with you that we create new saint names by naming our kids non-saint names! Good luck with the name game!

  9. My dad, the youngest, was named by his siblings, he ended up Regis :)

    I have ALWAYS pronounced (in my head, because I don't know any real life Eamons) EEEamon...now I know.

    Naming kids is impossible when you work with kids. We almost lost it naming this one, only because Big A was so resistant to John Paul (because every Catholic family we know has one) but I finally pushed through...and john paul it will be.

    But, Aaron keeps threatening to call him Johnny! For the love!!!

  10. All the men in my husband's family have the same initials - JMC. That's what I had to work with. And we have 4 boys. Imagine coming up with 4 "J" names that we both like. Because we had the same issues with "bad" associations with certain names. Oy. But we did it - Joshua, Jordan, Joel and Jameson.

  11. I could talk/read about baby names all. day. long.
    We have more trouble agreeing on girls names than boy names. Our three are Lucy Anne, Simon Alan, and Nora Kateri.
    Best of luck!

  12. So funny. That baby looks like she could be MY baby! Seriously Colleen... it's sort of like we're family.

    Marijanna and Shaun are great names ;)

    1. I forgot to tell you..my second son saw your name when I was blogging and thought it was Marijuana....sorta funny????

    2. Oh, my gosh, Tom saw her name on facebook and said the same thing...I quickly corrected him. He was sorry. Really, he was.

    3. I've heard that before I think ;) ...uh like since 7th grade and the rest of my life going forward. Ok, so Colleen could drop the j since she's not Croatian like me, but Marianna is still nice!

  13. I/we decided/decreed that the first and middle names had to start with the same letter. We have a million double lettered boy names that we can agree on and we had 1 girl name - and since the hubs has 2.5 million boys on his side of the family we were set. Only we ran out of the one girl name after the first baby. Then when it came around to picking girl name numero dos... not too much discussion because we probably wouldn't actually use it... WRONG.

    Since I/we must have both names decided so there is no discussion/wavering/changing... this time around there was MUCH discussion about the girl name because well neither of us had real front runners.

  14. When I was working in college...data entry..I was sitting behind a pregnant gal and she was talking with someone about baby names.

    "I would never name my child Christine..because..ya know..that Stephen King book!"


  15. Okay, this is crazy, I was just about to post a "What's in a name" post. it's actually in my drafts section. About June's name and how we came up with it - and Addie's of course, too. I will definitely put a link to your page haha!

    I'm also cracking up because I thought I remembered reading one of your posts back in February about already calling names among your readers and you put Emily and Thomas, I think. Shoot, I might have to go back and find it! :)

    i totally see your dilemma! Knowing so many kids because of teaching is seriously annoying! I LOVE to think about names. My friend even gave me a book with 50,000 baby names in it, all categorized in funny ways - I can send it to you if you want! I mean I can pick it up and flip through it at any time, that's how much I love names and meanings.

    Your little niece is SOOOOO cute. How much did she weight? I like to see if other people have hefty babies like us.

    Okay, miss you, can't wait to find out the gender and can't wait to meet your little Sarah (means princess) in March ;)

  16. Call her Bridget/Brigid. That way Phil can have his traditional saint name, you get your Irish name, and I get the name I wasn't allowed to use because my brother has a Bridget and they told me it was OFF LIMITS!
    No, I'm not bitter.

  17. I forgot to tell you - My friend here at St. Joan of Arc has four Irish names -
    Kieran (boy)

  18. My sister-in-law had decided to let her kids name the baby, and she told them the name had to work for a boy or a girl because they had decided not to find out the sex ahead of time. And the kids came up with the name "Bowling Ball." So, that did not happen.

  19. This was so interesting to read! I love all your crazy reasonings because I'm so that way too! Phil is hilarious with the student names lol. Our girl name has been set since before our wedding, but we are struggling with a boy name. We are both like 99% on a name but people (family) will assume it's a family name and it's not... it's a saint name! But then to TELL that to people almost seems hurtful lol. But we just don't love our back up so... hopefully we just have a girl and put it off at least another year or two.

    And LOL at the Stacy graphic. You do know that "Stacy" is the male spelling, right? Yep, I got the male spelling because it's easier to spell. Because apparently I would have struggled with Stacey. Thanks for the vote of confidence, mom and dad!!!

  20. We have never had any issues with naming our kids except for our first. I wanted to call him Jacob. Pete did not because Jacob, in the Bible, means "supplanter", and he did steal his brother's birthright. Well, during the 10 days I was overdue with him, we watched a movie and the main character, a boy name Jacob, was evil. Then we were in the Dr's office and there were two brothers fighting and we heard the mom say, "Jacob, do not hit your brother." Plus I had a weird dream at that time too, so we decided that Joshua would not be a Jacob, and we easily settled on Joshua. We had no trouble with Caleb and Andrew's names. Complete agreement. And we pretty much have a name for our adopted child already too and we both agree. I am not sure it would be so easy if we had more kids though . . .

  21. Tom used to counsel teen girls, now he counsels men, and has for years and years. They ruin every. single. name.

    Jamie Jo or Jamie Joseph....girl or boy name, I like it.

  22. I have to add, that I HATED the name Jamie as a kid, because everyone teased me and called me "Jamie Summers, the bionic woman" If you don't get it, you are too young.

    If you get it, you are old like me.

    When I got older, the boys teased me a lot (they liked me--haha) they sang this to me all the time, "Oh, woe woe, Jamie's cryyyyying" I never listened to rock, but I think it's a Van Halen song? Drove me crazy. They also used to say all the time to me, "Jamie Jooooooooooooowo wo wo wo wo"

    SO, OK, you don't have to name your baby after me.

  23. I'm loving these posts you've been writing lately! And I heart everything about this one because ohmygolly it sounds like the track record in my brain whether I'm pregnant or not!

  24. We have a heck of a time agreeing on names too! I was dead set on naming our last baby Evelyn, but I couldn't get my husband on board. All of our kids have names that start with a vowel. So at least that narrows down our options quite a bit!! Emma, Abby, Ian, Owen, Adam, Iris :)

  25. I am a fellow name geek! Coming up with your children's name is one of the most important decisions of your life! My husband just did not get how important it was/is!! We did not know the gender of either of our children so we went into both births with a boys name and girls name as well as a set of backups..just in case (also because I like to be CRAZY prepared!). With our first I new almost immediately if he was a boy, he would be Easton John (John after my father). I fell in love with his name the moment I saw it and it suits him perfect: boyish, nice sound and unique without being hard to spell/pronounce etc.. When baby number two came along we went thru the same thing, boy name girl name few back ups BUT with the twist of finding something that matched Easton's name and that we loved just as much. While i fished through one of my favorites from my first pregnancy and it stuck! we had our baby and it was Another boy- Hudson William (William being a family name). I am proud of their names because I put a lot of thought into them and they are such cool little guys that I can't help but like the names that go with the little beings! :)

    I hope that I get a chance to name a few more, because I really really like naming babies. And having babies, too!

  26. I recently put this book on my wish-list: The Catholic Baby Name Book. I haven't seen it in person to completely vouch for it, but the Amazon preview makes it seem pretty awesome!


  27. I loved this post! We love Irish names around here, too. When we were expecting our first child, if it was a boy I wanted to name him Seamus; but my husband thought that was a bit too Shamrocky--even for us. (Nowadays, Seamus is not all that unusual a name!) We compromised with Sean, which I love. Our other boys' names aren't as Irish as Eamon--or even Sean. But they're still pretty Irish.

    I love names, too. I wish I'd had more kids to name! Have fun picking out just the right moniker for your newest Martin. :)

  28. Why are Irish names so crazy?? Seriously, some of those Celtic names make zero sense phonetically! Anyhoo, I am HUGE on picking a name that means something. I think it's so sad when parents pick a name just because it sounds cute. When you look into the Biblical understanding of names (and other non-Judeo Christian cultures as well), choosing a name IS an enormous responsibility and a child does "become" their name. And then it's theirs for ALL eternity. Not to make you more paranoid, of course ;) but you're right, it's such a big deal! Pray about it and see where God leads you. Ooh, another thing to consider is whether God chooses to have the baby born (or conceived...) on a special feast day. We haven't had that blessing of a baby born on a great male feast day but we always keep our names a bit up in the air just in case.

  29. Wait, wait, waaaaait . . . you "detest" the name Margaret?! Oh, Baby is so sad now. ;-) Just kidding, since we call her by her nickname anyway.

    You know all my kids names, and I generally don't post them but I'll break the rule just this once. Just to tell you where we got them all.

    Mollie = Mary Catherine. Mary after the Blessed Mother/my mom and Catherine after my middle name. Mollie from the ancient British nickname that has been around forever and ever (seriously, Rob and I both have Aunt mollies). But Americans have never ever heard of it and they demand to know why we didn't just name her Mollie.

    Simon John. Simon is my maiden name, John was Rob's father's name. Plus, two awesome apostles.

    Anne Amelia. Anne for St. Anne and after Rob's grandmother. Amelia is Rob's subtle homage to my name. Close enough, but still different.

    James Robert. James after St. James and also a variation on an old Scottish family name: Jamieson. Robert after, hmmm, wait it'll come to me . . . ;-)

    Elizabeth Claire. Our first baby to NOT be named after a direct relative. Rob has loved the name Elizabeth forever, and I've always loved Claire. Two great saints that go great together.

    Margaret Eileen. Margaret after my mother-in-law and St. Margaret of Scotland. Eileen after Rob's beloved godmother. The first few times he said her name out loud, he cried.

    Joseph Jude. Joseph after my dad and St. Joseph. And I just felt very called to make his middle name Jude from the beginning of my pregnancy, so I don't argue with saints. ;-)

    I'm sure you'll pick a great name that will fit the baby just right.

  30. I totally hear you on being married to a teacher and having them veto every other name because they knew a trouble-maker kid with that name.

    Anyway, when we picked names, there are my requirements for girl names:
    1) had to traditional but unpopular names (so nothing in the top 100)
    2) had to be German to go with our last name.
    3) had to be relatively short and not easily nicknamed. For some reason I don't like nicknames...I just like my kids name to be their name. So, all our girls names are 2 syllables so they can't be nicknamed.
    Our girls are Heidi Marie, Greta Marie and Elsa Rose. The Marie is for Mary (also my middle name) and the Rose is because when we were naming Elsa, my son was disappointed she wasn't a boy and he kept saying "Rose is a beautiful name" so he chose the name Rose.

    For our boy, he was named after St. John of the Cross (my husband's favorite name) so he's got a super popular name..but I don't mind that for girls. And, I'm not a fan of German boy's names, so we didn't go for htat.

  31. Such a good post. I could think about and talk about baby names all. day. long. Friends of ours choose a saint and then name the baby appropriately, depending on whether it's a boy or a girl (they don't know til it comes out). So John Vianney became Vianney Jean-Marie for a girl. Bernard of Clairvaux became Clairvaux, a girl. I'm eager to see what they name Baby #8 that could be born any time!

  32. Oh gosh, Colleen, you have me rolling! I don't know you...or Grace, but she linked to you and I clicked b/c I also love/hate the naming thing. I could go on-and-on about our naming woes...we have seven - four biological and three adopted (and boy does that pose extra naming craziness!!!). Anyhoo....I'm only writing b/c Fr. Solanus Casey was my great-grand uncle. My maiden name is Casey. I have always come across Casey as a boy's first name and Kasey or Kaci as a girl's...probably there are cross-overs, but just my experience since I was raised being told by everyone that I had two first names. I have a nephew who was born on July 31st so naturally he was given Solanus as a middle name. My fear with it as a first name is that some horrid wise-cracker would nickname the boy Anus. Sol is fine, but questions would ensue. I don't know...maybe I will end up with a Casey or a MIDDLE NAME ONLY Solanus someday. Good luck with the naming and prayers for a great delivery! Oh, and my husband wanted Bernard - Solanus's given name...oh the nicknames there!

  33. Oh, of course I love the Clare! I just love hearing girl names - they always speak to the beauty of the feminine spirit. Thanks for sharing, Colleen!

  34. We are crazy about Fr. Solanus Casey! I actually love Solanus for a first name, but can't convince my hubby. A better middle name, perhaps. I love hearing about how others choose to name their children, and what names are special to them. Andrew is also my favorite boy name!

  35. Okay, I got the pronunciation of Eamon pretty easily, but there is no way in the world I would pronounce Niamh correctly. I could sit there all day and never figure it out, so you made the right call.

    I actually love girl names that used to be boy names that actually should be boy names. I want to see Ashley make a comeback as a boy's name, but it's probably not going to start with me. I've known a handful of male Shannons in my life, too, and never thought twice about it.

    I say once you get past 4 kids, the children get a say! I always loved how the Duggars would just take a vote. I guess by number 18, you might as well!


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