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Monday, March 16, 2009

Baby Girl or Boy S____an

Jennifer writes:
We don't know if we are having a boy or a girl. In the past, my husband has pretty much let me have command of the names. He always has names to put on the list, but it seems that either he has chosen one that I have liked, or has acquiesced to my favorites. We already have 2 girls, Kate Lorraine (3) and McLaren Josephine (2) whom we mostly call 'Claire'. Our last name starts with 'S', and has an 'an/en' sounding ending. One of my biggest annoyances with names is when they blend together, as in Max S--, so any name with an 's' or 'z' sounding ending is out (sadly, this nixes Chase, Chance, and Alexis, all of which I LOVE). Also, I would like to stay away from the 'en/an' names to avoid being too rhymey. I am less worried about this last part if it's a girl, but really don't want the 'en/an' ending for a boy.

For a girl, I love Allie/Ally/Ali (undecided on spelling - thoughts?), but I think I would rather her have a more 'proper' name, and just use Allie/Ally as the nickname. I also like Lexi, so I'm sort of leaning towards Alexa. I also like Allison/Alison. Really, what I love is 'Ellie', I think, (and someone just told me about Ellery, which is SO cute) but the name Ellie is already taken by one of my BIL's daughter's, and I think my husband's family would flip if we also used it. I also like Ruby, but am pretty sure my husband will nix that one. My husband's top pick for a girl's name is Audrey, which I think is okay, but we're totally stuck for a middle name.

If it's a boy, my favorites are Luke and Matthew (not trying to go biblical; I just like them). I also like Jack, but again with that darned popularity. I would really like to use James for the middle name (my father's name, my grandfather's name, BIL's name). My problem here is that Luke James sounds sort of weird to me, as in not-flowy. But I don't really want to name him Lucas James (which I think sounds great) because of the whole 's' ending thing! I call my daughters by their first and middle names a lot, and am just not sure that I would love saying, "Luke James come here right now!" very often. Matthew James sounds great to me, but at the moment I like Luke better. My husband likes Peter, which I am not hugely fond of, and there also seems to be some family history with Nicholas. I do not have a problem with the 's' ending for the middle name, just the first name, so I wouldn't have an issue with Nicholas as the middle name, except then I can't use James for the middle name.

My last issue is that I am also leaning towards James as the middle name for the baby even if it's a girl. Is that too weird? Each of our other daughters have family aspects to their names, and I would like for the last child to also have some family history to her name. Any thoughts and ideas you guys have would be greatly appreciated!

Audrey is a beautiful name, and I also like Aubrey. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Audrey. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Aubrey.

You like Allie and Ellie, so I'll suggest Elsa and Eliza and Callie and Delaney and Elena. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Elsa. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Eliza. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Callie. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Delaney. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Elena.

You like Ellery but want to avoid Ellie, so I'll suggest Everly and Avery and Hillary. (There's also Emery/Emory, but that ALWAYS makes me think of filing my nails.) Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Everly. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Avery. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Hillary.

And one more that comes to mind is Darcy. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Darcy.

Let's put a possibly-too-gigantic-to-be-useful poll over to the right, and then we can move on to the next issue, which is whether it's okay to use the middle name James for a girl.

I am in general opposed to the name-rich girl side stealing a single one of the name-poor boy side names (though I do submit to it once a name is transferred: look how I just recommended Avery for a girl with hardly a flinch), but middle names are different because they're so often used to honor family names. Audrey James is...well, that's really CUTE, isn't it? I think part of it is that it's reminiscent of the middle name Jane.

I don't think I WOULD do it, though, with a more boyish first name. If you choose Avery, for example, it's gender-neutral enough that people look to the middle name for a clue. Avery James is a boy. Everly James is confusing. Eliza James is a girl, and adorable.

And here is something I hesitate to mention, but I will do it anyway. When I was growing up, we knew a family that had only girls. One girl was named Andrea (called Andy) John (her dad's name was John). It was generally assumed that this was because her father had wanted a boy so badly and had finally given up on getting one. The message it conveyed was "We were disappointed to have a girl." The reason I hesitate to mention this is that this was SUCH an unfair assumption.

If you don't use James as a girl middle name, here are a few others to consider:

1. Jane. Audrey Jane, Aubrey Jane, Elsa Jane, Eliza Jane, Callie Jane, Delaney Jane, Everly Jane, Avery Jane, Hillary Jane, Darcy Jane.

2. Ruby. Sometimes when one parent likes a name and the other parent doesn't, the middle name slot is the perfect place for it. Elsa Ruby, Eliza Ruby, Elena Ruby.

3. Alexis. Sometimes when a beloved name doesn't work in the first name slot, the middle name slot is the perfect place for it. Audrey Alexis, Aubrey Alexis, Callie Alexis, Delaney Alexis, Avery Alexis, Darcy Alexis.

4. Other first name candidates. Audrey Elena, Aubrey Eliza, Elsa Delaney, Eliza Delaney, Callie Elena, Elena Audrey, Everly Eliza, Avery Elena, Hillary Eliza, Darcy Eliza.

Okay! On to boy names! I see what you mean: "Luke James" is a nice combination, but not melodic for calling out lovingly across the house. I think the trouble here is that you like short snappy boy names, but you've got a short snappy middle name already and need something a little longer to carry it off. I'm going to see if I can find some names that have that snappy feeling but in longer versions.

I wonder if you might like the name Isaac? I think it has a similar sound to the name Luke (that hard c/k sound) but it sounds better with James: I can just picture you calling out, "Isaac James, sweetheart, wash your hands and come for lunch!" Well, or maybe you don't say sweetheart; maybe you say honey. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Isaac. [Edit: Jen says in the comments that they can't use Isaac because another in-law has already used it.]

And here's another possibility: Eric James. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Eric.

And what about Frederick? I keep pushing this one because it's one of my own favorites (as are Isaac and Eric, if we're being all full-disclosurey here). Frederick James. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Frederick.

Why don't I just keep moving down my list of favorites? Elliot James. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Elliot. There's the Ellie sound you like, but without the tempation to use the nickname and get in trouble with family.

Carter James. Kate, McLaren (Claire), and Carter.

All right, now I'll make another poll for the boy names. Remember there are two polls to vote in, one for (the many, many) girl options and one for boy options. [Polls closed; see below for results.]

Poll results:

Girl names (255 votes total):
Alexa: 33 votes, roughly 13%
Allison: 16 votes, roughly 6%
Audrey: 50 votes, roughly 20%
Aubrey: 24 votes, roughly 9%
Elsa: 13 votes, roughly 5%
Eliza: 24 votes, roughly 9%
Callie: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Delaney: 21 votes, roughly 8%
Elena: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Everly: 21 votes, roughly 8%
Avery: 17 votes, roughly 7%
Hillary: 4 votes, roughly 2%
Darcy: 18 votes, roughly 7%

Boy names (223 votes total):
Isaac: 27 votes, roughly 12%
Eric: 25 votes, roughly 11%
Frederick: 20 votes, roughly 9%
Elliot: 64 votes, roughly 29%
Carter: 37 votes, roughly 17%
Luke: 31 votes, roughly 14%
Matthew: 19 votes, roughly 9%

Name update! Jennifer writes:
We had our baby boy, Luke Arthur, on April 3rd at 10:03pm. Thank you for your help with names - it was great to hear what others had to say, and it certainly gave us some good ideas! My husband came up with Arthur (family name on his side) a few weeks ago, and we both liked the flow of the name. I am a little sad we aren't using James in the name, but think the name Luke Arthur fits our baby boy perfectly.


heather said...

Wow, lots of names here!!

My girl favorites right out are Ellery James, Ally James. I think using "boy" names for girl's middle names, especially for honoring family is sweet. Maybe you could change up the spelling a little? Jaimes? to make it a little more feminine? Or use Jay/Jae instead of James, standing for James but a little more non-genderized. Alison Jae, or Ally Jae?

I also voted for Eliot in the boy poll just because it's similar to the Ellie you like so much. With James I like Matthew better than Luke. What about Jamison? Luke Jamison??

Shoeaddict said...

I actually know a little girl (named Avery) who has her father's middle name of Joseph. Her older sister has her mother's middle name and because she was the last child, she got daddy's middle name. I think it's different and sweet.

I like the name Luke a lot. I also like Lucas but agree with what you are saying about running together with your last name. I like Matthew James.

I like Elise for a girl and also Callie.

Kate said...

I LOVE James as a girl's middle name.

The Schwant Family said...

i also LOVE James for a girl's middle name!

Jen said...

Swistle and readers: you guys are awesome! Thanks for your help in this naming dilemma.

Just for the record - I can't use Isaac, cute as it is, because a different BIL has already used it. There are a lot of children in the family, so a good number of names are already taken! Boo for me waiting so long to have kids. =)

name fan said...

Another option for a formal version of "Allie/Ally/Ali" could be "Alicia/Alesha". It's pretty and not overused nowadays. :)

Jenn said...

We tried to avoid the an/en for boy names too - (luckily we had 2 girls!) But if you like Jack - How about Zach/Zack? It also has that hard "k" ending like Luke. Plus, Zachary James has great flow.

Tracy H said...

I love the name Everly for a girl, but can't think of too many mn suggestions. But I loved Swistle's suggestion of Eliza James. I think that's a great name. Would spelling it "Jaymes" make it more feminine? Either way, I like it. There is a female model/actress out there whose first name is James, she goes by Jaime King now, but used to go by James King which I think is her proper name. Boys names, I'm at a loss. I like the the suggestion from above, Luke Jamison. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I am adamantly against using James or any other traditional male name for a daughter's middle name. Why is it that Americans like to give their daughters male names but wouldn't think of giving their sons a traditionally female name? What if Jen had two boys and wanted to use the family name -- say Eleanor -- for this baby and then had still another son: Luke Eleanor? There'd be an uproar against it. To me Alexa James sounds just as mismatched.

Fortunately, there's a very similar sounding and also traditional name that is close to James: Jane. How about using Jane as the middle name to honor the Jameses in the family?
Alexa Jane is lovely.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- It's because, culturally, in the United States, boy names and girl names are different: boyish names for girls are considered good; girlish names for boys are considered very bad. They're not the same situation and can't be compared the way you're trying to compare them. I'm not saying it's RIGHT or FAIR that it would be that way, but I'm explaining to you that that's the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Just an aside: I'm female and my middle name is Louis, which is a family (last) name from my mother's side.

I really disliked having such a traditionally male middle name growing up, but it's since grown on me. But growing up, it was almost always assumed that my father's name was Louis.

People were quite rude about it, too...upon hearing that I have a younger brother, one woman actually said, "Oh, too bad that you wasted the name on her!" to my mother. But then I grew up in the South, and this was *ahem* a few decades ago. YMMV.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I love the name Allie/Aly a lot. So I vote for Allison Jane for a girl (or alternately Alyson Jane).

I really don't like boys names for girls... and James is such a special male name in my family, that I just can't see it. I think that choosing a different family member to honour, or going with Jane or something else is a better idea than using James for your daughter's middle name.

For boys... I see what you're saying about Luke James. I love the idea of Zachary James (it's on my list for my own future son, actually, lol). I also like Swistle's suggestion of Eric James.

Stacy Fetterman said...

I love James even for a first name for a girl. I wouldn't worry about it sounding to boyish as a middle name. I think it's great!

Carolyn said...

I really like Allison/Alyson. It's such a beautiful name with a long history. Alexa is pretty too, but doesn't seem to lend itself as naturally to the nickname Allie, as much as it does to the nn Lexie. I tend to think Alexandra or Alessandra would flow to Allie more naturally.

Christina Fonseca said...

Kate and Claire are simple, no-frills names. Since both Mom and Dad like Audrey, I voted for it because it is also a classic type of name.

As for a middle name, my vote goes to Jane. Audrey Jane - simple and feminine.

Anonymous said...

I have two cousins named Alida (same spelling) but pronounced different.
One is Al-eye-da
the other is A-Lee-Da
A-lee-da goes by Ali...
i really like different names that can be shortened into more common names... McLaren is a very different name... (awesome btw) but Claire is a well known (not common though) name....
Maybe Alida could fit:)

For boys.... siighhhh... I like Carter... Elliot would be good for you because of the Ellie but i chose Carter because it was my favourite... Parker is good too:)

Frazzled Mom said...

I love Callie. If you feel it needs a more formal version how about Calla "Callie" or Calista "Callie"? Both Calla and Calista are not so common, but still have a comfortable feel to them IMO. For boys, if you like Jack you might like Frank.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I am biased because I have a son named Lucas (and he was almost Lucas James, but we switched the mn to Anthony). What about Luka? It's what we call him more often than not (I'm Italian). Perhaps it's too feminine, but it is the Slavic/Italian version of Luke. People seem to really like it, and are more likely to mention "the hot ER doctor" than the song that goes "my name is Luca, and I live on the 2nd floor". Anyway, have fun picking names!

Catherine said...

I say Callie because you already have 2 other C/K girl names and none of the others seem quite right to me with the other two.

emily said...

just found this post when searching google for "ally james" i'm having a baby in april '10 and we are not finding out the sex of the baby. but if we have a girl i want to name her ally james (not sure about spelling ally) just curious if you named a girl ally? another funny thing... i have avery picked out for a future child (boy or girl)