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Wednesday, April 24, 2013


We are all settled in at the new address, if you've forgotten to change your RSS feed and you're wondering where everyone is:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Moving Day!

Hello! We're taking this blog to a new address:

It's just going to be a huge, huge mess for awhile, which is why I've been putting it off. For example, yesterday I wrote this Moving Day post, and then discovered that all the posts on the new blog had imported TWICE, so I had to take down this post and spend all afternoon and evening fixing things.

And the comments are currently ABOVE each post, which I will fix when I figure out how to do so, because it's silly to come upon the option to comment even before you've read the post.

And if someone comments on the old blog, that comment won't show up on the new blog, and I won't be able to move it, and it will be lost forever.

And the formatting on the transferred posts is completely messed up, with big gaps and no gaps and things not in the right place.

And I don't know how to do polls yet.

And probably we're going to run into a lot of problems with commenting. (Just for starters, I think the first comment from each commenter automatically goes to moderation.)

So anyway. A huge, huge mess.

But the move needed to be done, so if we can just plow through this period of things being broken and changed and confusing and upsetting, I think everything will feel fine before long. Remember to change bookmarks/subscriptions if you have them; all new posts will be on the new blog.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Baby Boy Bradshaw, Brother to Ayla and Mackenzie

Sydney writes:
We are the Bradshaw Family, and we have two daughters with our first son on the way around May 26, 2013. The hubs is Reid Harrison and I’m Sydney Louise. As I wrote earlier, we have two daughters already. Our first is Ayla Jennifer and our second is Mackenzie Simone, and the two names couldn’t be more different. 

Ayla is five years old and her name is unheard of around our town. It was a name we just stumbled upon in a name book, and we immediately fell in love with it. Jennifer was my husband’s sister’s name who unfortunately passed away years ago in a car accident, before I ever got the chance to meet her. It meant a lot to my husband and his family to honor his sister and I was more than happy to oblige. 

Mackenzie is 17 months old, and unlike her sister, her name is a little more popular around our town, but not over the top. She is affectionately known as “Kenz or Kenzie” around our house and amongst family and friends. We picked her first name after she was delivered because in all honesty, she just looked like a Mackenzie. Her middle Simone is a variant of my father’s name. 

Now we are expecting number three and we can’t find the perfect name that sounds great with our girl’s names. We had two girls names put together which were Emerson Lilly (middle name is after my husband’s grandmother) and Teagan Louise (my middle name) which we will now set aside for future purposes, as we do not plan on this being our last child. 
Now each of us have our own list of boys names that just seem so different. His name list includes Jacob, Owen, Eli, Cameron and Cole. Now, I like the idea of Cole and Cameron, but it just doesn’t feel like it could be Ayla and Mackenzie’s baby brother. Now my name list is Easton, Luca, Jake, and Blake, but yet again, these don’t seem like our baby boy’s name either nor can my husband and I compromise on one of our names. 

I’m hoping that you could help us find a great name that sort of unites the two girl’s names together. The middle name will either be Samuel (after my husband’s father), Maxwell (my husband’s grandfather), Reid or Harrison (both after my husband). I’ve heard so much great stuff about your website that I hope you could help us. 

Please and Thank you.

I think Ayla and Mackenzie are very compatible in style. I've heard that the name Ayla has Hebrew/Turkish roots, but I think its current usage is more often from Mikayla/Kayla: just as Madison and Madelyn led us to Addison and Adelyn, Kayla led us to Ayla. If your second daughter had been named, say, Haia, or Suna, the name Ayla would have seemed to belong more to the Hebrew/Turkish roots; but used with Mackenzie, it fits perfectly with Emerson and Teagan.

I think your boy name lists are also very compatible. I would probably cross off Eli for being too similar to Ayla, and Cameron for being too unisex (it could equally well be a sister name for an Ayla and a Mackenzie), but all the others seem like candidates.

Since you both have Jacob/Jake on your lists, I'd lean toward that. If that's not quite right but you want something similar, I'd look at:

Hayden (maybe too similar to Ayla)
Hayes (maybe too similar to Ayla)
Jameson (may rule out Emerson later)

Or if Cole is close but not quite right:


I've gone back and forth on suggesting Colby. On one hand it's a nice combination of Cole and Jacob. On the other hand, I'm not sure I like the stuttering B sound it creates with Bradshaw, and I wonder if Colby brings Carrie to mind.

I wonder if you'd like Sawyer? Sawyer Bradshaw; Ayla, Mackenzie, and Sawyer.

If Easton is not quite right, I wonder if you'd like Weston. Weston Bradshaw; Ayla, Mackenzie, and Weston.

Or I like Wilson. Wilson Bradshaw; Ayla, Mackenzie, and Wilson.

It would rule out Teagan for a girl, but Teague would work for a boy. Teague Bradshaw; Ayla, Mackenzie, and Teague.

A lot of your middle name options seem like they'd be great as first names: Samuel, Maxwell, Harrison.

[We've moved! Comments left on this post after 03/26-2013 won't be transferred to the new blog. You can go to the post's new location to leave a comment.]

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Baby Girl Davis, Sister to Piper Lynn

Lori writes:
I appreciate your time and consideration very much.  Thank you for reviewing my request.

I have a 2 year-old daughter Piper Lynn (my maiden name) Davis.  We wanted something perky, upbeat and a little tomboyish yet unique enough to go with (the-incredibly-common) "Davis" - I think we got what we wanted.

I am now due with our second (and last) child who is a girl, due May 13, 2013 and would like a name to compliment Piper. Middle name will probably be Anne (it would be a 4th generation middle name).  Obviously longer and traditional names are out.  I also want to avoid anything too trendy or popular.  Letters to avoid:  "D", "K", "P" (but not absolutely).  I want to avoid anything like Kaylie, Kayden, Peyton, etc.

I'm not a huge believer in astrology but she will be a Taurus and potentially be born on my mother's birthday (with whom I had a very rocky relationship growing up), so a name that could "counteract" those qualities would be appreciated.  We had thought of Skylar, since sky is the opposite of earth (Taurus is an earth sign) but it seems a little heavy-handed to me.

I thought Tatum would fit perfectly with Piper but no one can seem to get Tatum O'Neal and her monstrous history out of their heads. We have also considered: Margo, Marlowe, Sloane, Willa.

I love the name Wesley but it, of course, is a strictly boy name. I can't quite figure out what in the sound fascinates me.

The name Wesley is very occasionally used for girls (in 2011, the Social Security Administration reports 2450 new baby boys and 33 new baby girls named Wesley), but with Piper I think it reads boy.

The first alternate suggestion that comes to mind is Lesley: it's different from Wesley by only one letter, and currently used mostly for girls. I'm not sure Lesley is a good fit with Piper, though.

Presley is another rhyming option. In 2011, there were 1384 new baby girls and 123 new baby boys named Presley. Presley Davis; Piper and Presley. Starts with a P, but I'd still consider it.

Next I think of Waverly. I'm not sure about the repeating -av- with the surname, though, and the initials WAD would bother me.

Next: Paisley. I think this one has a lot of possibility. It's very similar in sound to Wesley, but it's used mostly for girls. I think it shares the perky, upbeat, tomboyish sound of Piper. Unfortunately it starts with P, which you'd prefer to avoid, but I still think it's a good option. If you were planning on more children, I might worry that it would be hard to find a third name to go as well with those two names as they go with each other, but since you're not, I think they make a very appealing pair. Paisley Davis; Piper and Paisley.

Or there's Ainsley or Kinsley, though Kinsley starts with K and Ainsley might not work with Anne.

I don't know enough about astrology to give specific advice, but I think if I were looking for a symbolic name in this situation, I would look for something from a sign compatible with Taurus rather than opposed to it. Using a name opposite to Taurus seems like it symbolizes an urge to cancel out something that she is, or else to symbolically put her in conflict with herself or with her grandmother. I think I might instead look for a name that represents your own astrological sign (to symbolize your hope that your relationship with your daughter will be more compatible than the one you had with your mother), or represents one of the positive qualities of the Taurus sign. Though actually, I think I would abandon this idea entirely: I think a name of this sort might cause you to reflect on your rocky relationship with your mother every time you think of your daughter's name.

Tamsin shares sounds but not reputation with Tatum. Tamsin Davis; Piper and Tamsin. I'm not sure I like it with Anne, though.

Or Gemma would work well, I think. Gemma Davis; Piper and Gemma.

Or Romy, or Rory. Romy Davis; Piper and Romy. Rory Davis; Piper and Rory. I particularly like Rory, if the initials RAD don't bother you.

Quinn may be more unisex than you'd prefer (in 2011, there were 1117 new baby boys and 1680 new baby girls named Quinn), but with Piper I'd be more likely to think girl. Quinn Davis; Piper and Quinn. Maybe not with Anne.

I think Cleo would be great. Cleo Davis; Piper and Cleo. The initials would be CAD.

Or Merrin. Merrin Davis; Piper and Merrin. Initials MAD.

Or Brin. Brin Davis; Piper and Brin. Initials BAD. Goodness, the __AD is a little tricky to work with!

I wonder if the movie has been gone long enough for us to use Juno? Juno Davis; Piper and Juno.

[We've moved! Comments left on this post after 03/26-2013 won't be transferred to the new blog. You can go to the post's new location to leave a comment.]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Baby Girl Falcon, Sister to Stella Grace

Valerie writes:
I have read every crevice of your blog as we try to find a name for our second daughter (and last child), due to arrive in late March/early April and I would be thrilled to the input of you and your fabulous readers.  We are stuck!

Our older daughter is Stella Grace and our last name is Falcon with an e at the end (sounds like Capone).  Naming Stella was easy for us, as it was a name that we had fallen in love with many years before we were finally able to get pregnant.  We loved the slight Italian feeling of it, and it's meaning of "star", and once we saw her little heartbeat flickering on the ultrasound and my husband offhandedly commented that it looked like a little star, we were sold and never looked back.  We did not realize at the time that it had/would become a popular name. 

We are having a harder time naming this little girl, I think because we don't have the same type of long term attachment to a name, or any sort of a meaningful connection or story to go with it that makes us feel like "Yes, this is it!"  Who knew that naming a daughter based solely on finding a "name we both love" could be so hard!?

I'd describe the name style that we are looking for as having an antique charm with classic sound, being familiar but not too common.  We'd like it to be a nice complement to Stella (but not too matchy) with a bonus for having some Italian roots in either the first or middle spot.  There are two names that continue to bubble to the top, but my husband and each love a different one more than the other. So we are trying to put them both to the side while we consider other names, as it's hard to imagine choosing a name that either of us is at all hesitant about.

Scarlett Noelle Falcon(e)-this is my top choice, and my husband really likes it, but isn't sold.  Our concerns (though minor): Is Scarlett too sexy? Is Stella and Scarlett too matchy?

Ivy Caprice Falcon(e)-this is my husbands top choice, and I like it, but don't love it. I am stuck on the concern that if Ivy becomes a more popular name she could end up being called Ivy F. (IVF) in school.  My husband thinks I'm crazy for being worried about this but I can't help it!

Other names we are currently considering:
Serena-my husbands current fave
Gianna nn Gia or GiGi
Corissa nn Cora (love that it has a tie to meaning heart in Italian, even if it's loose, as a way to connect it to Stella's star meaning). We are open to other ways to getting to Cora, or maybe just using Cora alone as well.  I love Coraline, but we struggle with the movie connection.
Caterina Patrice (an Italian version of our mom's names, Catherine and Patricia).  This has the meaning we are looking for, but we don't LOVE it, and don't think it's a great match with Stella

Names that we've considered, but taken off the table:
Emilia-I love, my husband does not like it
Luciana or Lucia-I love (and my middle name is Lucille), my husband does not like it
Seraphina-we both like, but don't like it's nicknames, especially Sera
Juliana-we have close friends who just used this

Please help us! You and your readers always give such fabulous advice, and we would be so grateful for a nudge in the right direction.  I promise to update with our decision and a picture once she arrives!

Thank you so much, 
An update since I last wrote:

We are both still feeling strongly about our first choices (mine: Scarlett, his now: Serena) but neither of us likes that it's not the top choice for both of us. We've continued to brainstorm other names, or other variations of names we've been considering, as well as pairing middle names to see if that helps us.  Nothing has emerged as a common favorite, and we're not sure now how to resolve the fact that we have different top choices. 

Here is our current list:
Scarlett Noelle-my first choice, my husbands 2nd choice. He struggles a bit with the "scar" part of the name
Serena (having a hard time with a middle.  I like Rose and Rae, as a one syllable "sounds" right to me, but my husband doesn't like either middle. Perhaps we'd go with Noelle here?)-my husbands 1st choice, my 3rd or 4th.
Caterina Patrice (versions of our Mom's names as I described below, a sentimental favorite that we've had on our list for years, but it's not our favorite name and we're not sure it flows with Stella)
Everly Noelle
Noelle Seraphina
Ivy Caprice-I still have my "IVF" concerns, and my husband has let go of the name now since he loves Serena.
Cora Noelle - I love Cora, Rich likes it. This has been my 2nd choice for a while, but it's a bit more complicated now as our good friends who love this name just had a miscarriage.  We had agreed to both be free to use it, but now I feel like it would be insensitive, especially since it's not our top choice. This is probably Rich's 3rd choice, but he said it's distant to Serena and Scarlett.

Is there any other feedback or info I can give you that would help you to help us? 

I think I'd like to start by making one long list of all the first-name candidates from both letters:


And now I'll start crossing off. First I would cross off Noelle, because Stella and Noelle are both "elle" names. (I think it would be a nice tie-in if used as the middle name.)

Then I'd cross off Ivy. I love the name, and I don't think children generally know what IVF is, and IVF isn't an insulting or negative thing, and I don't think the name Ivy is going to be common enough among your daughter's peers for their to be a high likelihood of more than one Ivy per class. But on the other hand, flukes can happen (there can be not one single Isabella in a classroom, but two Isadoras), and the IVF thing would bother me a little too even though I can mostly talk myself out of it, and anyway your husband has dropped it as his favorite so the motivation to make it work has faded.

Then I'd cross off Everly. I feel like it's an outlier among your other name choices. (It might work very well as a middle name, however.)

I would cross both Cora and Corissa off the list, out of sensitivity toward your friends.

That leaves us with:


One thing I've noticed about a second child's name is that it can give spin to the first child's name. If a couple has a child named, say, Esther, it's difficult to tell yet how to take that name: is it more of a biblical/devout choice, or is it more of a hipster choice, or is it a family name, or WHAT? The second child's name can tell us more information: a little sister named Ruth tells us one thing, and a little sister named Matilda tells us another.

Stella is for me a name like Esther: I can picture taking it a few different ways. The name Scarlett clicks with the name Stella for me, I think because of the movie association (Gone With the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire, respectively, plus the additional impact of the actress Scarlett Johansson). For me, using Scarlett puts a red-lipstick/Hollywood spin on both names.

With Gianna and Caterina, the name Stella instead spins more Italian: strong and pretty.

With Cora, the name Stella would have spun a different way: still strong, still pretty, but more sweet/vintage.

With Serena, the word-name aspect is brought to my attention. (I might also have noticed it with Cora.)

And so on. The names on your list all work very well with Stella, I think---but in quite different ways. One exercise that might help you narrow things down is to talk about what kind of images you get when you picture each of the possible sister pairs. Which set can you most easily imagine as Your Family?

I thought perhaps in this next paragraph I'd say which was my own favorite name from your list---but I'm finding it very difficult to choose. When I did the exercise where I pretended to cross off each name in turn, the one that gave me the most pain was Caterina. I think it's beautiful; I love it with Stella; I love it with your surname. Most of all, I love that Caterina Patrice would honor both grandmothers in one shot. Imagine the happy weeping! And each girl would have a special story about her name.

I was reading over your letters again to see if I could figure out which name was your joint favorite, but what seems to be the overall theme is that none of the names strike both of you as being just right. Perhaps we'd have more luck looking for names that are similar to the ones on your list.

Let's look at Scarlett, for example. Violet, Charlotte, and Skyler are all similar, though of course quite different in style.

Calista also seems similar to me. Stella and Calista. They do share several sounds, maybe too many sounds. I'm picturing introducing them ("This is Stella, and this is Calista") and sometimes the pairing seems to have too many sounds in common and sometimes it just seems very well coordinated.

Now I've gotten distracted by the Italian section of The Baby Name Wizard, while looking to see if Calista is by any chance Italian (it's Latin, so sort of pre-Italian, and also Greek). Oh! Oh oh oh! What about BIANCA? I love that name, and I think it goes beautifully with Stella! Stella and Bianca! Oh, I want to go back in time and have two girls and use those names! Stella Grace and Bianca Noelle.

Or Claudia. One of my favorite girl names was Claudia; it was unfortunate that Paul had a Significant Claudia in his past. (She was a very nice girl, but he still didn't want to use the name for a daughter.) Stella and Claudia.

Or Elena is lovely, and somewhat similar to Serena. Stella and Elena. The Oxford Dictionary of First Names says that the meaning of the name is uncertain but may be connected with the words "ray" and "sunbeam"---what a nice coordinating meaning with Stella's! But again, perhaps they have too many sounds in common.

Selena is similar to Serena, and may mean "moon." Or the spelling Celina may tie it more to the meaning "celestial." (The Oxford Dictionary of First Names says both names are of uncertain origin.)

Carys would be pretty. Stella and Carys. It does make me think of Stella Maris, but that's not negative.

Or Geneva: a little like Serena, a little like Gianna. Stella and Geneva.

With Serena, I like the idea of the middle name Noelle. I also like Celeste or Corinne. Or to coordinate with Grace, I like Kate or May or Pearl. Oh, or Joy! I love Serena Joy, unless that's getting a little too wordy.

I see I never answered if I thought Stella and Scarlett were too matchy. I think if you were planning more children, I might worry that the combination would make you feel like you had to choose something equally well-coordinated for a third child; because you're stopping at two, I don't think they're too matchy.

It's true that it may come down to one of you liking the name more than the other does. I think that must in fact be typical: I think it's less common for both parents to love a name equally. Sometimes retrospect takes care of these things: if one parent loves the name almost as much as the other does, it may feel to them later on as if they always loved the name just as much.

One way to make things feel more balanced is this: let the preference tip the other direction for the middle name. So for example, if you end up choosing your husband's favorite of Serena, perhaps the middle name could be one of your favorites such as Luciana or Rose or Scarlett.

[We've moved! Comments left on this post after 03/26-2013 won't be transferred to the new blog. You can go to the post's new location to leave a comment.]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lana Cara

Jenn writes:
I'm due with my first baby July 12th, and it's a girl!  I want her middle name to be Cara after my sister.  The first names we narrowed down are Lana, Olivia, and Lily.  My husband and I are really favoring Lana at the moment, but I'm wondering if that name really goes with Cara.  (the pronunciation isn't Care-uh, but Ca-ruh - the a sound as in cat).  Our last name is Weber.  My sister doesn't know yet I'm honoring her with the middle name, so I don't want to ask too many friends or family or they might spill the beans.  I'd love input from you and your readers.


I think it depends on a few different things. First, are you pronouncing the La- of Lana more like the lla- of llama (so that Lana rhymes with Donna) or more like the la- of land (so that Lana rhymes with banana)? Now that I say both aloud, I think either one works with Cara in its own way: one by repeating/enforcing the vowel sound of Cara, the other by contrasting slightly with it. But some people might like one way and not the other. (Though I'm having a little trouble figuring out how Cara is pronounced. Is it like the word car, followed by an -ah/-uh sound?)

Secondly, is yours the sort of family where children are routinely called by first and middle names together? If so, it's more important that that names go together. If not, I consider the honor name to completely trump issues of whether the fit is perfect.

Thirdly, what do YOU think? The sound of two names together is highly subjective: one person may love a sound combination while another can hardly stand it, but neither person's opinion means the name objectively DOES or DOESN'T work. We could all vote on every name combination, and you would find us split on every single one, with some people saying "It's great! I love it!" and others saying "Dear me, no, that doesn't work AT ALL!"---so the important thing is whether you think the name works well enough to use, taking into account the considerable benefit of being able to use an honor name.

But in any case, my vote is that it's fine: if when you say it aloud you're not immediately thinking it's an obvious and impossible clash, then it's not too much of a clash for an honor name situation. And depending on how Lana and Cara are pronounced, I might in fact think they're wonderful together.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Pronunciation of Helena

Michelle writes:
Hi Swistle! My husband and I aren't having a baby yet, but I have a question about the name Helena. I love it and would definitely consider using it if we were to get pregnant and find out we were having a girl. The only issue in having is I'm not sure which pronunciation I like most (Heh-lay-nah or Heh-lee-nah) or which most people would say on first glance. I was hoping you could put up a poll to find out (I also think this would help me figure out which I'd prefer, if I was disappointed/happy in the way the results ended up). Thanks!

I have also heard a third pronunciation, which is like HEH-leh-na, with the emphasis on the first syllable instead of on the second---sort of the rhythm of Eleanor, or like Helen with an -ah on the end.

My own favorite pronunciation is heh-LAY-na. The name Elena (with the eh-LAY-nah pronunciation) has been on my own girl name list.

Let's have a poll over to the right! ...Wait. Do you want a poll about which pronunciation people like the most, or about which one they'd use at first glance? Let's have TWO polls, one for each question.