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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Baby Boy Slemko, Brother to John (Jack), Georgia, and Elizabeth

Kristi writes:
I stumbled on your blog today as I continued to work on a name for our baby boy. He's expected in the next 3 to 4 weeks and we've always had a name locked down by now, so I'm getting antsy!

Our first child is also a boy, and his name is John Fred Slemko, but we usually call him Jack. (I often call him John, but he's 4 and he typically associates it with being in trouble!). John and Fred were my husband's grandfathers. His uncle, and a very close family friend, were also named John. We elected to call him Jack in day-to-day life because my husband's sister was also married to a John (they've since divorced) and I liked that Jack was still a strong sounding name.

Our daughter is Georgia Adelaide Maria. I'm not big on giving three names, but she's named for my grandmothers (Georgia and Adelaide) and also for my husband's grandmother who passed away 5 days before she was born. I was very close to my Gramma Georgia and that name has been on my list since I was 16 years old; I realize it is becoming more popular now but it was chosen for long ago to honor her.

Our third child is also a girl and we found it more difficult to name her. (I really believed we'd only have 2 children, so we used up all the names we loved that also had family significance, on the first 2 children!). After a long debate, we chose Elizabeth (it was my favorite name as a child, always given to my dolls; and it was the middle name of my best friend in high school who died just before graduation). For a middle name, we chose Alice (which was my husband's grandmother's name, as well as the name of my dad's sister who passed away at birth). We wrestled with naming her Elizabeth because we don't like any of the shortened forms like Liz, Lizzy, Beth, etc and wondered how we'd do when people tried to call her by a nickname. My dad has tested us from the beginning, calling her pretty much every possible nickname until my brother told him off one day and said it was disrespectful.

Now we're completing our family and have learned "it's a boy!". With the traditional names of our other three children, I don't think we can throw in a Scout, Skylar, etc. (Not that we want to, but I'm just saying that I think the baby's name should "fit" with his siblings). But more than that, we'd like a name with some family significance since the other three's names are steeped in it. I was content to put significance on the middle name only (my maiden name is Palmer, so we agreed to use it as the middle name) but the names we like for first names are not resonating with me now the way they originally did. For instance - we've always liked William (but intended to call him William or Will, not Billy, Willy, etc). Now I wonder if it sounds strange to say "Jack and Will" together (sounds like Jack and Jill). For example, "oh, Jack and Will are at the rink with their Dad". We also like Eric, but it rhymes with my husband's name (Derek) and it doesn't feel as "strong" or traditional as John/Jack. Another one we both agree on is Henry, but it's relatively new to our lists and I'm not sure I like the "John - Henry" combination. There are lots of other names I like, including Nicholas, Robert, Edward, Benjamin - but I like the full name better than the short forms, and with the battles we've faced with Elizabeth's name, I'm not sure I'm up for doing that again!

So, suddenly I'm wondering if naming him Palmer as a FIRST name is our best choice? I know it's not common (I consider that a good thing) but it sounds strong to me, and definitely reflects our penchant for choosing names that honor our family heritage.

Thanks in advance!

To me, there are two issues involved with the name Palmer. The first hadn't occurred to me until we had a post that generated some interesting thoughts in the comments section about the name Palmer---among them that some find the name to have a bit of a suggestive sound.

The second issue is that it is a break with the style of the names of your first three children: three traditional names with long roots, and then a surname name. Those two styles are not as incompatible as some (for example, it would be harder to go from traditional names to noun names such as Storm), but it's something I'd want to think out ahead of time and make sure I was fine with it. I do think that as the number of children grows, issues of style compatibility get a little looser---but it's too bad that it would be just one child with the different style. The fact that it's your maiden name makes it tie in with traditional names much, much better than if it were a surname name chosen with no family connection---but it's still similar to adding a Skylar. But one of my very favorite family name ideas is to use the mother's maiden name as a first name. In short: I'm torn.

If I were you, since I too like sibling names to go together, I'd choose a nice strong traditional-name family name for the first name, and I'd use Palmer as the middle name. The John Henry issue wouldn't have occurred to me at all (especially if you mostly use Jack), and Henry is my favorite from the list. Henry Palmer Slemko; John/Jack, Georgia, Elizabeth, and Henry.

I can't tell if I would have noticed "Jack and Will" or not, but I THINK not; if it bugged me with time, I think I'd get in the habit of saying "Jack and William" or "Will and Jack." That's my second favorite, mostly because I'm not sure if the L and M sounds in all three of his names is a plus or a minus. William Palmer Slemko; John/Jack, Georgia, Elizabeth, and William.

I agree that Eric sounds less traditional/rooted than John/Jack, though I think it does work if it's a family name; with the second complication of rhyming with his dad's name, that would probably be enough for me to be inclined to cross it off the list.

Name update! Kristi writes:
Just a quick note to let you know our son William Palmer $lemko arrived on May 19!

We went back and forth between William and Henry as first names after receiving your thoughts and the blog comments... ultimately we decided based on which nickname was acceptable to us.  "Will" was ok for us, but "Harry" was not. 

John/Jack, Georgia and Elizabeth are smitten with their baby brother.  Many people have commented on what a classic, coordinated set of names we've chosen.  Thanks again for your help!


Christine said...

If you don't mind having two kids with "G" initials, Graham and Grant immediately sprang to mind. Grant Slemko; Grant Palmer Slemko.

I like Eric with your kids' names too, even if it does rhyme with your husband's name or sound as traditional as the other names.

I love Swis's suggestion of Henry.

Oh, maybe Clark? It's not common from what I've heard, and I think it's great with your other names.

Good luck!

Laura said...

All of the names your older children have are on my master list of names, so I think we have similar naming styles. Here are a few of my favorites:


liz said...

What about George? Nice strong name, long roots, single syllable like John.

Or James?

Or Charles?

Anonymous said...

According to behind the name, Derek is derived from Theordoric, so maybe you could use Theodore Palmer so his family names will be after you and his father. Theodore seems more traditional than Derek or Eric and you could use Theo, Ned or Ted as a nickname. Along the same lines, you could use Christopher after yourself. Chris and Kristi would be a bit much, but maybe you'd like Kit as a nickname instead. Of your non-family names that you like, I think Henry fits best with the others. I did not notice the John Henry connection & I agree with Swistle that if you mostly use Jack, it shouldn't be much of an issue. If it still bothers you, maybe you could use Harry as Henry's nickname? Jack, Georgia, Elizabeth and Harry.

Anonymous said...

Paul or Thomas are nice.

Angie said...

Thomas is nice, but has Tom, but I agree it is a good suggestion.

How about:

Those have nickname too, but maybe you can avoid them.

Finding something without a nickname that fits your style is hard.

Paul would be great if you are ok with the alliteration of Paul Palmer.

BTW: I would drop from the list Robert because then you would get Robert Palmer, but maybe that association is only strong to 80's children like me.

Your other names are great. The only problem is they all have nicknames, which might be tough to avoid.

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest James. It's a strong name that easily avoids a nickname because it's short enough. I also really like Henry.

Other suggestions that might not be hard to go nickname-less :)


Joanne said...

I like Henry and I think it would be sweet to use Harry as a nn, like the Prince!

Anonymous said...

I love the name Henry and I think Hank would be a great nn especially with Jack.

Katie said...

I am one of "those" people that named my first two children traditional names (Olivia and Spencer) and my 3rd we named a surname, Maguire (Mac).
I LOVE his name, but it gets a little tricky when you go to Dr's offices and to school. They think it is his LAST name.
My thought: If you are set on Palmer, do it. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, BUT if you can live with it as a middle name, then go for it. William Palmer sounds wonderful, as does Henry Palmer.
(Also, have you thought about nicknaming Elizabeth, Eliza?)

Anonymous said...

I know siblings named jack and William and William goes by William. No nickname. It might be easier to get everyone to say William because Elizabeth also goes by her full name. Plenty of families it seems call their kids by their actual name rather than a nickname.

StephLove said...

I like William or Henry for you, with Palmer as the middle. Nicholas and Benjamin, too. If it was mainly your father getting on your nerves with nicknames and he's laid off, maybe it won't be a problem this time around. It really is more common for this generation of kids to go by their full names.

lacey said...


Anonymous said...

I have friends with a Jack and a Henry, and I know they considered "Charles" as well. I also have a friend whose name is Henry, and he has brothers named Charles and Benjamin. It sounds to me like you know your style! :)

kristi said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. Not wanting to use short forms and nicknames does set a difficult task. We briefly considered "Elle" as a nickname for Elizabeth when we were concerned that her older sister wouldn't be able to say her name, but when she started talking she pronounced the whole big name, so we skirted that issue.

Although there is no family significance to either name, William and Henry remain at the top of the leaderboard. We will almost certainly not use Palmer as a first name - I can tell my husband doesn't LOVE it and frankly I was looking for Swistle to tell me she thinks it's the PERFECT name for our son. Without that objective third-party ringing endorsement I think we'll save it for his middle name.

When he arrives I will send an update and a photo!