17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'll Tell You Mine If You Tell Me Yours

I think it's fascinating to hear the history behind given names. I'll go first and then it's your turn, ok?

Me: Jen. My parents liked the popular name of Jennifer, but my father had an ex-girlfriend with that name, so my mom pretty much insisted that I be "Jenni". In a great act of rebellion, I boldly shortened my name to Jen when DH and I moved to New York. I had been wanting to make the change for many years, but I found it hard to do without starting over in a new place. New York was my shot. Most people come to the city to find fame on Broadway or fortune on Wall Street. Personally, I was content to move here in order to lose a couple of annoying letters off my name.

Today, everyone except for my family calls me Jen. When someone does call me "Jenni", I don't really mind, but I feel like my 13-year-old self in braces and a bad perm all over again.

DH: Edward. He was supposed to have the name "Eduardo" (he is first generation Mexican American), but the nurses in the Los Angeles hospital where he was born either misunderstood the request or decided to Americanize his name on his birth certificate paperwork. His parents didn't speak enough English to object, so the gringo name stuck. Most everyone calls him Ed. I only call him Edward when he leaves whiskers in our clean bathroom sink, or better yet, when he decides to turn on The Godfather while I lay in a hospital bed working hard to breathe through my contractions. Nothin' like seeing a horse's head in some dude's bed to keep you calm through labor!

DS #1: Noe. We were looking for something Hispanic and a little more original than "Juan" or "Pedro". When I was four months pregnant, we were shlepping around our New York neighborhood discussing names and Ed blurted out "How about Noe?" It was perfect. I still remember the corner we were standing on when he said his name for the first time (42th Street & 43rd Avenue, Queens). Noe is pronounced like you would say "No-way" in English and should have an accented e although I am usually too lazy to type it out that way. It is the Spanish equivalent of Noah.

DS #2:Asher. Asher is the main character in Chaim Potok's classic, My Name is Asher Lev, which also happens to be my all-time favorite piece of literature. Asher means "happy" or "blessed" in Hebrew, and in the Old Testament, Asher was one of Jacob's sons and Joseph's brothers. I really love the name and don't care that it is unusual unless you happen to be an orthodox Jew. Luckily, our extended family seems to like the name, although Asher's 18-month-old cousin calls him "Ashey" and Ed's parents have trouble pronouncing the "sh" which doesn't exist in Spanish and call him "Acher." Actually, they usually diminutize it and say "Achercito."

Gotta love America.... only here can a little boy have a white mama, a Jewish first name and a hispanic surname.

Ok, now it's your turn.... Note: You can tell the story of someone else's name if you feel the need to stay anonymous.


  • Great post Jen. OK, I'll come clean on our real names just for this post:

    Me: Sara. Moms name is Sharon and she wanted a derivative of her name for me, her firstborn. Whenever I'm asked to spell my name I automatically inform the person that there is no "h" on the end. If I see my name written with an offending "h" I scribble it out (this happens a lot at restaurants reservation desks!). I've always liked my name.

    DH: Sam. Just Sam. Not Samuel (as most people assume); no middle name either. This short name and no middle has always caused a problem for him when it comes to filling out forms - no one believes that his name is just "Sam". He's "Hon" or "Babe" to me most of the time, "SAM" when I'm irritated. And other names in bed :)

    DS: Simon. We had two names to pick between before he was born, Luke and Simon - I tended towards Luke. As soon as I saw him, I tearfully turned to DH and exclaimed, "He's not a Luke!". We think that Simon is the perfect name for him - it just suits him.

    DD: Sophie. I'll stop ya'll right here - we had NO intention of naming all of us "S" names. It just happened to turn out that way. We came up with our daughters name before we even got engaged. I loved it for personal reasons; DH loved it too. She is my darling Sophia...

    So there we are, the family of "S's".
    posted by Blogger chloe at 7/21/2006 10:29:00 PM  

  • Me: Erin Marie - My mom saw that the actress who played Joanie on "Happy Days" was named Erin and loved the name. She wanted a middle name that would let people know that I'm a girl, so instead of Lynne, she chose Marie. I go by Erin in the "real world" and Erin Marie on-line.
    posted by Blogger Erin Marie at 7/21/2006 11:22:00 PM  

  • My name is John David. I am the first son in my family and my father wanted to pass on his name (David), but was not brave enough as a young father to pass along his middle name (Emer). So he named me after his father (John W) and then himself.

    By the time son #5 came along, Dad was a little more confident and so my youngest brother is David Emer II. A lot of Davids...
    posted by Blogger the House of Payne at 7/22/2006 06:35:00 AM  

  • House of Payne----does your dad happen to be the old Stake Pres in Santa Barbara, CA and you have a sister named Christy?? Sounds too familiar?
    posted by Anonymous lsm at 7/22/2006 08:41:00 AM  

  • Cheryl -- My parents liked the French meaning: Dear one. I guess they liked how uncommon it is...
    However, they wouldn't give me a middle name. I was very upset for a long time and would sign all my papers in Elementary School as "Cheryl Anne" because I felt that I deserved a middle name. As I got older, it no longer bothered me. In fact, when I got married, I was very grateful that I didn't have a middle name --my maiden name has become my middle name. This was also about the time I learned that no women in my maternal family have middle names (going back 4 or 5 generations). My dad always says its great for family history.

    So, of course, I did the same thing. My girls don't have middle names. My son has one, of course, and he is named after 2 people: My uncle who died when I was 12 and my father. They both share the same name (my mom married a guy with her brother's name).

    (I really don't want to share those names for anon. sake). :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 7/22/2006 11:32:00 AM  

  • DD: Maren. We had three names picked out that we really liked, and thought we'd see what she was like after her birth. If she seemed impish and playful (and had reddish hair), it would be Mallory. If she seemed refined and elegant, it would be Elizabeth. And if she seemed strong willed and independent, it would be Maren. After she screamed full body, bright red the whole time, for at least the first 90 minutes after her birth, we settled on Maren.

    DS: Toby. This was much much harder for us. We wanted a name that was not too common, and I was obsessed with checking the rankings of baby names. But neither did we want something really strange. It seemed that there were a lot less names we liked for a boy. We were down to Caleb and Toby on the short list, but were still toying with Sawyer, Zane, and I can't remember what else. He was born, and we still weren't sure. I told DH to go look at the list of names of recently born babies in the hospital. We flipped through the phone book. The nurses wanted to put his name on the bassinet--the first night they called him Jack--and the second day, one of the nurses asked if we had a name we were thinking about. We said Toby, but we weren't sure yet, and she said she could put it on the bassinet to try it out. We ended up staying with that name (although his full first name is Tobin). However, it took me a good month before I felt comfortable calling him that rather than "the baby."
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 7/22/2006 12:08:00 PM  

  • Lacey- My mom liked the name. She heard if from a woman who liked the singer Lacey J Dalton though. My middle name starts with J also, not on purpose. But when I worked at a restaurant as a teenager, and before I knew who I was inadvertently named after, some people would call me Lacey J. and then I would look at them funny for knowing what my middle named started with.

    Lilah- I just liked it. It was unique, and I like unique non-popular names. It translates to night in Hebrew. We didn't have it chosen for sure until she was born, the other choice was Aliyah, but she was born at 10:09 pm, so it seemed fitting that her name mean night. People always forget the "h" though.

    Eden- my second child. My husband came up with this one. He sent it to me in an e-mail that also contained other hideous names, Zelpha being one of them. Eden is also Hebrew. Her middle name is Deanna, but only because we liked Deanna as a name. Deanna Eden just didn't flow as well as Eden Deanna, so Eden became the first and Deanna the middle.

    My husband doesn't have a middle name either. It causes him some grief. Then my FIL's middle name is C, no period, nothing. This was almost a problem on our wedding announcement, for the sample they had a period after his name, luckily it was a sample.
    posted by Blogger Lacey at 7/22/2006 02:45:00 PM  

  • Me: Carrie. My parent's were 99% sure I was a boy, so they had only decided on a boy's name when I was born. I was going to be named after the Stake Patriarch, a man my parents loved and admired. When I turned out to be a girl, they decided to name me after his wife, whom they also adored. I didn't like the name when I was a kid, but I don't mind it now.

    DH: No idea about the story of his name. Guess I now have something to ask him over dinner.

    My daughters: Neither of their first names have any real story. I love names rich in family heritage, but my girls are the 37th and 38th grandchildren on my side so all the "good" ones seemed to have been taken. So, I just went with names I really liked.

    I knew I wanted my girls to have "strong" names and I liked that each name I chose had a history of strong women attached to them. My first daughter's middle name is the same as mine (and our first son will have my dh's middle name - family tradition). And my second daughter has her paternal grandmother's middle name.

    My mom doesn't have a middle name so she has always used her maiden name as her middle name. I like that.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 7/22/2006 04:56:00 PM  

  • Pumpkin and Princess...those don't seem very "strong" to me.
    ; )
    I'm back. At least for the moment. The lights are flickering though....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 7/22/2006 05:06:00 PM  

  • My grandma had a history of funny name changes. She was born Katherleen Lenore Lastname. She was known sometimes by Katherleen but most often by Katie (my name too). She decided while she was older to switch and go by Lenore instead. Then she got married and was Lenore Katherleen Maidenname Marriedname. Then she changed "Lenore" to "LeNore". There may be a couple other switches (like dropping Maidenname), but I can't remember them now. When she was close to passing away, she was really struggling with what to put on her death certificate/tombstone. We kind of laughed about it...silly Grandma.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 7/22/2006 06:09:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 7/22/2006 07:38:00 PM  

  • Our moms and dads have really short nick namey first names

    Though we love our parents and find their souls and persons quite substantial, we didn't feel they had the weight of good family names to pass along. We did not attempt to remedy this with our daughters either. We just wanted them to be unique. So...the only trick with their names is that all three names have 5 letters each, and this tradition will continue if we have more children (Rocco and Piper are on the list).

    This makes it easy to sing the song BINGO with both girls and all their names...a good spelling lesson.
    We got Darby from a reporter on CNBC named Darby Mullaney, we thought it was cute. It is a male name in Ireland. We are not Irish, nor is she male.
    Her middle name is Sofia, b/c I liked it...turns out there is a Sophia in the family tree a few generations back.

    Olive Renee came about because big sis suggested Olivia and since that was the 5th most popular name (and I don't do popular names), Olive just sort of came to me and it stuck. Renee just sounded pretty with it. I regret it a little b/c she has already gotten her first piece of mail that says: Olive R. Glass, and it looks like Oliver. Woops. Sorry Baby, I guess you will be like your grandpa Louis E. Long live Oliver and Louise!
    posted by Blogger Kage at 7/22/2006 07:40:00 PM  

  • Kage, my husband's name is Paul, middle name Alan. Half the time things are for Paula, and it drives me crazy. He couldn't care less.

    No interesting name heritage here--just the trauma we went through at naming a baby boy.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 7/22/2006 09:27:00 PM  

  • Ism: We've never lived in California. Must be different Paynes.
    posted by Blogger the House of Payne at 7/22/2006 10:08:00 PM  

  • My husband's half sisters were way older than him and they suggested a name that would be the same as a TV character (first and last name). His parents did it.
    I won't say since it would give up anon. But he sometimes introduces himself with, "Like on ......"
    Although, I told him that younger people probably haven't watched the show so he can't reference it to them.
    posted by Anonymous JKS at 7/22/2006 10:14:00 PM  

  • Most of my older siblings had a jillion people their age with the same name. When it came time to name me, my parents had used all the names they liked, so they asked my Grandma. She had just watched the Thornbirds, and loved the lead actress whose name was Piper Laurie. It was unique, and they liked it even though my siblings hated it. So I was named Piper.

    I hated my name 'til I was 13 or so. I so badly wanted a name that was normal and wasn't the name of a Pizza place, or a popular nursery rhyme. It also didn't help that my name rhymes with diaper so very well, (my mom still sighs sometimes and calls me "little Piper Diaper" in a reminiscent sort of way).

    As it stands now, I'm oddly protective of my name. I still don't particularly like it (I feel like it sounds too chipper for people to take me seriously) but I bemoan the success of Piper Peraboo and the subsequent popularizing of my name. I guess I feel like I shouldn't have gone through endless teasing centered on my name just to have it end up as popular as other names.
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 7/22/2006 11:44:00 PM  

  • I think Piper is a beautiful name- and it was on my list for Abigail's name, but DH wasn't sold. Despite it's popularity, we went with Abby because it means "Father Rejoices" and we both liked that.

    None of our names are fabulous or even have good stories- just average... Athough I think Jeffrey is the perfect name for a red headed, freckle nosed four year old boy. Eric didn't have a name for two days- nothing we had picked fit him, and we ended up naming him after both my brothers when they called us at the hospital. A viking name isn't too bad for another red-headed baby boy...
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 7/23/2006 01:05:00 AM  

  • Mine is a truly beautiful story. My parents didn't like any of the names they had on the list for me when I was born. So for the next three days they thought of names for me. They never liked any. It came time to take me home. My dad came into the hospital room and told my mom that they couldn't take me home unless I had a name. So they panicked and just threw "Melissa" on the certificate. My mom felt bad, but "did what she had to do".
    A few years later when they had my little brother, the nurse told my mom that it was a $10 charge if they left the hospital without a name. She was furious. She was forced into naming her first (and only) daughter on the fly, with no thought, just to save my dad ten bucks.
    I've never not liked or liked my name. I do love my middle name: Mae, after my great grandma Mae who was a beautiful woman with the kindest heart and sweetest spirit. Not quite there yet, Grandma Mae, but working on it :)
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 7/23/2006 09:31:00 AM  

  • Whoa Melissa. My name is Melissa Mae too! Weird. I was named after Melissa Manchester (the singer from the 80's). Strange.
    Daughter was named after a freeway exit in Orange County, CA (Avery) and her middle name (Grace) was after my DH's aunt and great-grandmother.
    DH wasn't named after anyone except that his entire family is named with D's.
    Interesting to hear everyone else's!
    posted by Blogger Missy at 7/23/2006 11:28:00 AM  

  • My husband has 2 middle names (I think with just a 3-letter last name you can get a little fancy right?). His is Matthew James Gordon (both middle names are his grandfathers names). . so when daughter #1 came along we wanted to do the same. . .
    #1 is Madison (this was before Madison was every other girl in the class) and middle names Mary Jill.
    #2 is Molly (yes, we have said, good golly miss molly more than once) she got my middle name. . .Sue, just because it fit well and I liked it. . .Molly Sue.
    #3 is Whitney (almost Tabitha, but Whitney won out) and she has 2 of her Grandmothers names, Afton Carolyn.

    I wondered if two middle names would be too much (it does make some forms difficult but no big deal), but in the same few months that Whitney was born, two of our friends picked two middle names for their kids too (one fought her husband on it. . ."But they have two middle names!!!)
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 7/23/2006 02:01:00 PM  

  • Great stories...thanks everyone for sharing!

    Melissa: I laughed so hard at your "name story"...probably because my dad would have done the exact same thing!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 7/23/2006 02:47:00 PM  

  • My parents gave me my grandma's middle name and I love it. Every time I sign my name I am reminded of all her wonderfulness (not sure if thats a word, but I am using it to describe her).

    As for my sons I tried to give them at least one name that would remind them of someone special in their lives.

    I was not that inventive with boy names, but if I have a girl I would love Signe, now if I can only convince dh...
    posted by Blogger trimama at 7/23/2006 02:49:00 PM  

  • the only actual interesting thing about my name is that I dont have a middle name. This spot is reserved for my maiden name which i carry with pride. this will be done for all of my daughters as well. I think it is a great way to keep your identity even when you marry.

    Ronin; although you may think came from the movie with Robert Dinero and Edward Norton, didnt actually start there.
    It started as Roe like the DH of a cousin of mine. I really liked Roman too but DH didnt, and while talking ronin got blurted out and even when we knew we loved it, i stressed about it when I mailed away for the Birth Certif.
    With its spelling It actually means masterless Samurai. which at first sounded really cool but i think in Japanese lore all masterless samurais are evil and get killed. I like to think they are rebels for a good cause.

    next baby if a girl might be Montana (monty) or odessa (des) or Lilly.
    boy. definitely Cash (Cache) even though it means conseated. still love it.
    posted by Blogger ksl at 7/23/2006 07:51:00 PM  

  • DH: William but he goes by his middle name. Every first born male on his dad's side has been named "William" since the Civil War. Each person has a different middle name so no Jr.'s and such. To keep with tradition and not ruffle any feathers, our first born son will also be named William.

    Me: Elise. No middle name either so now my middle name is my maiden name but I usually use just the initial. I have always hated my name because no one can pronounce it - usually get "Ellis" or "Elsie". My parents just liked the name but was almost named "Rachel" after my great-grandmother. Also in grade school, I signed everything Elise Elizabeth just so I could have a middle name.

    DD: Kaitlyn. We wanted a name to go with our Irish last name - Riley or Kaitlyn. When we saw Kate on the ultrasound, we both instantly knew she was a Kaitlyn. Also like that Kaitlyn can be shortened to Kate - I never had a nickname so I wanted her to have one. Unfortunately, it is a very popular name but my goal was to give my kids names that people could pronounce.

    Baby #2: We have no idea what to name this baby. I really don't know why it is so hard to think of a name but I definitely want a name that he or she can use as an adult and be taken seriously.
    posted by Blogger Elise at 7/23/2006 09:33:00 PM  

  • My name is Monique. It was a name my dad heard in a Frank Sinatra movie when he was a teenager. He vowed if he had a girl, she would be named Monique. My mother on the other hand hated it. Both my parents are Scottish, and my mum didn't like her daughter having a french name (you know that good old UK/France rivalry). Anyways, after I was born (by then they had moved to bilingual Canada) my mum heard a french speaking person pronounce it (as it should sound I suppose) and she relented because she thought it sounded really nice. (She does admit though that had they still been in the UK I would have had a different name)
    posted by Anonymous monique at 7/23/2006 10:30:00 PM  

  • Whoa Missy! Crazy....
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 7/24/2006 08:28:00 AM  

  • I know I'm late and the "prime" of this post has passed, but I thought I would add...

    Maralise: My mom found the two names in a baby book and combined them. I have heard many stories about my name. I have been told that Maralise is a version of Mary Elizabeth in Hebrew; Mara in the bible means bitter; people from 3 continents have told me they know people with that name and on my birth certificate, it's two names, Mara and Lise. My mom changed it when I was two but we have all been too lazy to make it legal.

    My oldest Son's name is: Stone Matthew. Weird first name (chosen because of some translation thingy of Peter in Italian that my multi-lingual hubby thought up). Normal second name....just in case he hates us later.

    Second Son: Grey Prescott. Grey because my MIL had heard the name growing up in Virginia. Prescott was an American General in the War for Indepedence. I believe he fought in Maryland and that's where we were living when Grey was born. Grey Prescott fits him because he shows a quiet, peaceful strength.

    Thanks for the post, Jen. I loved remembering the significance of the names of my loved ones and reading everyone's intriguing name choices.
    posted by Blogger Maralise at 7/25/2006 01:27:00 PM  

  • Complaint:
    ~Little Miss Sunshine film, main character is named Olive.
    ~My daughter, Darby was just watching the Disney Channel and this new Winnie the Pooh show had a voice over that said: You'll get to meet Darby

    posted by Blogger Kage at 7/27/2006 05:08:00 AM  

  • I'm late to this post too, but I couldn't resist.

    My name: Sunny--not just my blog alias, but the name I go by in life, although it's not my "real" name. That is Allison, which I love, but having grown up as Sunny, I feel distanced from anyone who calls me Allison. No one does. My parents named me Allison after my mother's good friend from college, who also didn't go by her real name but went by Kisi. Although I have met Kisi Watkins and admire her immensely, I am eternally grateful to my parents that they did not name me Kisi. =) Some people probably think Sunny isn't much better. DH admitted to me after we got married that when he told people who hadn't met me that his fiance's name was Sunny, they often assumed I was Korean. I've always loved having a unique name. It's a great icebreaker and conversation started.

    DD: Astoria--named after our beloved Astoria, Queens. Her middle name: Josephine--after the street we lived on in Sarajevo (Joseph Stadler street), my great-aunt Josephine, and of course, Joe March (from Little Women).

    Great, great post, Jen! Fun to know the history behind all these names.
    posted by Blogger sunny at 7/28/2006 11:26:00 AM  

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