Monday, January 18, 2010

Spanky Bum Bum and Naming Guidelines

We've chosen a name for the baby. Well, it's like 90% sure. Of course it's a sealed vault so don't ask and don't try to guess, you'll never get it. And no, it's not Martha Bertha.

In the meantime she is being called Spanky Bum Bum. Superfly wasn't sticking, and Ginger suggested one day in the car that we name her Spanky Bum Bum and then erupted into heart-melting belly giggles. And frankly so did I.

We told Hazel when she came home from school and she got the giggles as well. Then when Ed came home from work the girls tried to tell him but got laughing too hard to get it out, so I told him and then we all had a good giggle. I need to try to record Ginger saying it because it's so so cute. And hey, if Spanky sticks a little after she's born, I don't mind. Everyone needs a nickname.

But back to real names. I don't have strict requirements for names - in the end it's more of a feeling. But I don't go throwing a dart at the baby name book either. We've got our guidelines:

1. It has to be a real name, or something that can be a name. It has to be something people have heard of, not a made-up word is what I'm saying. I'm not giving my kid a life of double takes - "What? What did you say your name was? Matroishkalina???"

2. It has to be spelled the way it sounds. Why oh why burden your child with a life of alternate spellings? Like a girl I knew in high school - Kyndness. You know she has to spell it for people EVERY TIME. So do I, but there are a lot of common spellings for Kari/Kerry/Carrie. Luckily mine is only 4 letters so I don't mind too much. But if it's a name or word people know, spell it the way people know, which is why we do not have Hazyl and Jinjir in our family.

3. It has to be UNCOMMON (but not unheard of.) I would like them to have names that other kids their age don't have, like all the poor Jennifers, Amys and Carries in my generation. If I truly felt clueless as to what currently popular names are (hello, Olivia, Sophia), I can always check the social security website, which tells the top 1000 boys and girls names of each year, or Name Voyager, which maps names by usage and year. Ranking high at least 50 years ago, or never, is a good indication I might like to use it.

4. No prefixes or suffixes. Sorry, Hazel. That means "Swanita" is out.

5. This is a loose guideline, but two syllables are good. Just enough to get your point across, to make it sound unique enough as you yell it across the playground so your kid knows you're talking to her, and yet not too long. Not a mouthful. Not a pain to write out.

6. Obviously, it has to sound good with the last name. For example, I like the name Ida, plus it is a family name, but "Ida Hickman" makes it sound a little too much like it's going to be "Idaho", so it doesn't work for me. Less important, but still to be considered, is how it sounds with the other names in the family. "Kari, Ed, Hazel, Ginger and Victoria Elizabeth" might not be the right direction for us.

7. I'm not necessarily against all kids starting with the same letter, or having the same ending, or following some kind of theme, as long as those are all your favorite names anyway. But sticking to a plan just to stick to it (Jason, Janelle, Jana, Jordan, etc.) when there are so many other great names out there is unacceptable to me. I get the spice comment sometimes - "Wow, all your names are spices - next you should use Cinnamon or Sage!" Never mind the blatant ignorance that Hazel has nothing to do with a spice (lamo), but I'm not going to be tied down either way to a perceived pattern. If Cinnamon was my very favorite name I'd use it but if my favorite is Glenda then that's it.

8. No naming her one thing but calling her by her middle name. That's advice from my brother-in-law who is in that situation. He said it's just confusing when people read your name and you have to correct them and tell them what you go by - "Robert?" "No, actually it's Quinn." "Oh." Name the kid what you're going to call her, then give her a middle name that is the name you're NOT going to call her. Duh.

9. It has to be fun to say, because I am going to be saying it 500 times a day until she is 18 years old. It has to have staying power so I'm not kicking myself in two years, and like I said before, not a mouthful please.

10. Not a big fan of the could-be-a-girl-or-a-boy names. You hate to look at a written name and not know if it's a girl or a boy. I was shocked as a young girl to meet a boy named Cary, though that's less common as a boy name these days. But there are a handful of either-way names and I just figure anything to avoid confusion or explanations down the road is best.

I think that's pretty much it. The main thing is, it has to be a real name but currently out of circulation - unfortunately I used Hazel on the upswing (it was #517 when she was born and is now up to #343) but it couldn't be helped. I'd had that name chosen since I was 16. The others have come along more recently but they've all been fun. And I feel pretty satisfied.

So I'm curious - what are your naming guidelines?


tona said...

I don't have guidelines to add (except that boys names are harder and there's a reason why the top 10 is essentially the same as it was 50, 75 and 100 years ago), but your extensive list of criteria is making me EXTREMELY CURIOUS to find out what Spanky Bum Bum's real name is going to be! How can I wait that long??

JillEE said...

Who knew that naming your baby was so scientific. But I guess it works because not only are your names adorable (Hazel and Ginger) but they seem to fit your girls perfectly.

Disco Mom said...

Ton - I have a hard time believing boys names are harder. We have three awesome boy names that will probably never get used. I think it's just different criteria. You did very well with yours. But it's true, I might be more accepting of a popular boy name like Jacob or Matthew than a top ten girl name like Emily or Chloe. Yeah, they're nice names but there are so many other choices!

Jill - not really scientific, just lots of time to think it through...and over and under and through a hundred more times.

The Gardener said...

You really need to read my September 16, 2009 post. There's a discussion about 'Ida'.

Kelsey Carreon said...

We have some similar criteria (believe it or not Christina is not that common anymore lol... we were very surprised), but we also have the criteria that is must have some sort of family significance. Duncan McClain.... There is a Duncan in every generation of my dad's family and McClain is my older sister's middle name and a last name in our family. Christina Grace.. Named after my Aunt Chris and my SIL Teena (their actual names are Christina) and Grace is my Great Grandmother's first name... her last name is my midddle.... Aurora Kathleen is named after Edric's late mother Aurora and her middle name is my mom's. If we ever do adopt a boy his name will be John Jackson after our fathers. I think the only thing I hate is people ask me if I named Aurora after sleeping beauty and i have to explain no, but Christina likes to say her sister is Princess Aurora and the song does get a lot of play time at our house which is fun.

Lindsay said...

We have a hard time coming up with names (especially boys names) because we have a lot of naming criteria, too. Most of our guidelines are very like yours, and while I'm all for picking a name in lower use, in our case I'd have to put that below how commonly I've heard it used with our last name. Because our last name is as common as it is, we like to pick names that, while not necessarily totally out of use (2009, apparently, was the Year of the Caleb, in our circle at least), are at least not as commonly used. I think that's why we have such a hard time coming up with boys names, since, as Tona said, most of the top names have been the top for years and years. At any rate, I can't wait to hear what you've picked. If the trend continues (which I have no doubt that it will) it'll be a cute one.

Just Katy said...

I like names that have some background, that are in a sense old. I like the idea of giving a kid a name that they can look up and find out a bunch of different types of people that all had their same name.

For Reuben, there's the kind of crazy original Reuben from the bible or the pirate killer Reuben James (which we didn't know about until after we named him) or his great great grandfather Reuben Ingebritson or the cartoonist Rube Goldberg or Reuben J Clark etc. etc. As a bonus Reuben has a bunch of great folk songs available to him thanks to the sinking of the good Reuben James.

I always thought it would be cool to use a name of a character who appeared in a book read while pregnant with the child. Reuben was almost called Peter because I read War and Peace with him in utero.

But at the last minute we just had to go with Reuben James - for the feeling. Not to get all mystical, but I do think names have to fit the kid and in some ways you can sort of sense what feels right - at least that's how I felt. The name Reuben just kept coming back into my head.

And another rule - using family names is good BUT repeating cousin names is a bad idea. Like my neice is Eliza so Elise or Elizabeth etc are off limits. Which with the Cummings clan is going to get difficult.

Can't wait to hear what name ya'll picked.

Just Katy said...

Sorry to go on and on and on.

But you raise a really good point about Spelling. It is a tricky thing. We wanted to use the traditional spelling since it makes life easier. But the traditional spelling of Reuben from the Bible is tricky- the eu has everyone confused.

I'm still tempted to switch Reuben to Ruben but Aaron is adamently opposed. My parents changed my name's spelling when I was about one so I figure I could still do it.

Jenifuz said...

All our kids end in 'n' so we're sticking with that. They also all have family middle names and that is a must. unfortunately Ethan and Cayden became popular the year of or the year after we used them. I thought I was doing so good too! Maryn is still lower on the popularity list as is Gwendolyn but Ashlynn is moving up. I totally love Hazel and Ginger so I'm very excited to find out what little Spanky is going to be named.

Anonymous said...

My naming system (I totally don't understand people who DON'T have one) has a lot to do with our last name--it is long, unheard of, and hard to spell, so:

1--Name must be an easily recognizable name in both family cultures, which pretty much knocks out everything but Bible names.

2--1 or two syllables

3--Meaning--when kids first figure out that names have meanings, I think it is pretty unfun to answer their breathless query with "Oh, I just liked it." To me, the name must have an inspirational meaning, or family or historic/religious meaning.

4--Initials--probably not a major consideration for most people, but since most male names in one of our cultures start with an O as does our last name, I almost had to bypass Peter, a long time favorite. Luckily, Peter was born on a Sunday, allowing him to be named Juma (meaning Sunday), so I jumped on the chance to use Peter right away. Couldn't have done it if the initials were going to be P.O.O.

4--Sounds good with the names--we have one "English" name and one Luo, so they had to go together or balance each other. Lily, for example, is named for her great-grandmother Aketch, which is kind of harsh-sounding to us, so I balanced it with Lily even though it is more popular than I would have liked.

We have different standards for use of first and middle names since we use a home name/outside name system to integrate our cultures, but most people don't need to worry about that. I have a friend who actually gets annoyed when people call her children by their ACTUAL names because she named them names she doesn't actually use. Kinda crazy.

Incidentally, my name, EMILY, has long been high on all the lists, but I have very rarely known any other Emilys. I never had any in my classes at school or my wards, and generally there was only one other somewhere in the school in another grade. So I have always wondered about those lists. I think nurseries and library story times are perhaps a better monitor.

MiaKatia said...

Oh I am so excited to find out, partly because Hazel and Ginger are two of the cutest girl names ever. I think naming is one of the hardest parts about having a baby.

Emily said...

I LOVED this post! Names are so fascinating to me. And this Emily was "Emily D" for years and years b/c she had at least one if not two other Emily's in her classes. Oh, and I was one of THREE Emily Davis' at BYU in my year.

Anyways, I like your criteria and I LOL when you said ppl say Hazel is a spice.

Our criteria was much the same as others that have been mentioned but the biggest for me was that the name be tried and true, meaning: OLD. I die every time I hear of some poor kid with a trendy name or, worse, a completely made-up name. Oh, and I hate last names turned into first names, esp for girls. Hmmm...i guess i have a lot more dislikes than likes when it comes to names but oh well.

Can't wait to hear what you've chosen! And if it's Mackenzie or something and I've totally put my foot in my mouth, so sorry!

Disco Mom said...

Emily O - excellent point about the initials, no point in making life harder on the kid. You just have to check the initials before moving forward.

Emily D - no worries about offense - MacKenzie was never on the list. Although "trendy" is a subjective term.

Growing up I knew a Karma, an Aura and a Sunshine - obviously parents from the 60's - and at the time maybe those names were "out there" or "trendy" but I just LOOOVED them and was so jealous of them having original names. All of those, by the way, fit my criteria.

Katy - I too love the idea of using a book character name. I recently re-read Peace Like a River and it really made me want to fit the name Swede in somewhere, but it's just not going to work out this time.

All - I like the idea of family names as well but in looking at our 4-generation chart, it's too limiting. In fact, they have not given us much to work with and I'm not going to make my kids pay for it. For example, our four grandmothers - love them, mean no disrespect - are Elnora, Edna, Berniece and Jean. I need something more to work with.

Anonymous said...

I like Jean (it helps to have your very own Smiths song, although that doesn't help the case for Sheila) and Bernice, actually, even Elnora--sorry Edna.

We have a number of good family names I can't use because of my system, although I go back more than 4 generations. One I tried to talk my sister into (she doesn't seem to have a system), and I offer you: Bliss. I would be all over it!

A girl named Cinnamon moved in a bit through the year in sixth grade; she was in most of my classes, but as she came "late," her name was at the end of the roll in every class. Just after every teacher concluded with "Cinnamon" some boys in class would sing "toast crunch!" Poor girl. It wouldn't happen to Bliss.

Marie W said...

When I was pregnant with Spencer, there was a myriad of names that were on the "absolutely not" list. While it may be difficult to believe, we went with Spencer because at the time I knew NO one under the age of a general authority with that name (with one exception from HS). Now that we have moved back East, there are 3 other Spencers within 3 years of our own Spencer's age.

Emma came about because I have always wanted a girl named Emma, and it happens to be a name that occurs in both my and Adam's family history. I definitely subscribe to the philosophy that a child's name fate is not sealed until that baby comes out. Our little Em is so well-suited to her name...but alas, it has been top 5 on the charts for the last few years.

Definitely with you on the normal spelling plea.

I find my taste in names is changing. We've got a man child on the way, and none of our back-up from when I was prego with Spencer are even in the running. We're starting with a major blank. Time to start going through the family history again. I have always liked that I was named after my great grandmother and felt a special link to her and Gpa C as a result. Spencer shares his great grandfather's middle name, so we like to get a little family connection in somehow.

Disco Mom said...

ESO - Bliss is adorable. I knew a family on my mission with 2 daughters - Corrina Joy and Contessa Bliss. Fit them perfectly, what a fabulous set of names.

Marie - Isn't that funny how while your overall style remains, your tastes do change? Ginger was never on the Hazel list - nothing on that list was appealing the second time around. And none of the names on the Ginger list were on this one this time. It's like each list only has one winner, and the losers never get another chance, like American Idol. Whole new crop each time.

dave said...

You know most of my rules are quite similar (and I know we've had overlap on name lists in the past as a result). I like names that are:

- out of circulation: thus, Hildegard, Enoch, and Phineas. I am completely amazed how many people have never heard these names - I cannot remember not knowing these names, along with probably thousands of other now-disused names. On the other hand, I read name books for fun with you and my other sisters as a kid and paid attention in history and sunday school classes, so I guess an above-average onomastic range is no great surprise for anyone in our family.

- known to be primarily names. Its true I did go through a phase at one point where I liked concept/title names like Monarch, Granite, Ronin, etc, and although Phineas' middle name is Archer, I have concluded that when it actually comes down to naming my children, I do like names to be names and not other parts of speech (no judgment made or implied on your own two-or-three color/plant-based names: I love them)

- I agree that initials can matter: there are lots of three-letter words ending in 'Y' that should be avoided: doy, soy, gay, hay, etc. There are also some that I wouldn't mind giving to a kid: sky, spy, etc. (Phinn's initials are PAY, which isn't great, but not really negative either). I did briefly toy with "Solomon Phineas" to make 'spy' work, but I didn't love the combo and M wasn't a fan.

- not alternately spelled - I'm with Aaron 100% that it is Reuben, not Ruben. I did get some flack from Uncle Cliff with Hilde that it wasn't Hildegaard, but I just told him we favored the German spelling and that he had PLENTY of chances to name kids if it mattered to him (that ended THAT conversation pretty quickly). Likewise, the Biblical spelling on Phinn's name is Phinehas, but historically the English-language version is Phineas, which we liked better.

- The name must fit the kid. We have always picked a frontrunner name and a backup just in case. This was especially true with Hilde, who very nearly might've been Samantha - totally wrong for her.

Anyway, I trust that you'll do just fine and that even though you're not telling ANYONE names early, you'll tell me because I can darn well keep a secret and I told you the name of our last one ahead-of-schedule. Right? Nevermind, better that you not admit it in front of everyone.

Carol Younce said...

Emily, I seem to remember that your sis Catherine told me that her name would have been Charlotte but that would have been too much like the Bronte sisters, Anne, Emily and Charlotte. Is that rumor true? We used family names for both first and middle for the girls, with the middle name being a closer relative. We changed the Norwegian spelling of Thone to Tona, which is how it is pronounced. Kari is actually Kari Anna, which she is not too fond of. We knew a Marianna and I loved the sound of it. Dave is of course King David. Another variation no one mentioned is the trend of combining the parents' names like Sharon and Blaine for Shalaine, or Neal and Dayla for Neyala

Carol Younce said...

I wanted to say something about Maren's name too. She was with us at a quilt show in NYC and a group of Danish quilters came to our booth and chuckled over her name, which they said was so old fashioned it would be used for naming a family cow. But we love the name and she has made it famous in our family. Now it is pretty popular it seems. In Kari's Bensonhurst Ward in Brooklyn there was a woman who married a Phillipino and her name was Maren Allitagtag.

Anonymous said...

Sister Younce--

Indeed, Catherine SHOULD have been Charlotte but my mom was concerned about school yard taunts of "Charlotte the Harlot." Of course, not many elementary school students actually know that word, but that is how Catherine ended up Catherine and not Charlotte. Of course, Charlotte is at the top of her list of girl names for future use. All her names are literary characters--she wants her kids to be attached to a book from birth; is it any wonder she ended up a librarian?

PS--I have known of quite a few fetal nicknames to win out in the end (unfortunately, I might add), so watch out, Spanky!

Disco Mom said...

Re: combining parents' names - or, say, Carol and Geary become Kari.

GR82BAMOM said...

Thank heavens it won't be "Martha"! ;) I always hated my name and always threatened to change it. Before school it was not an issue for me since I was always called Martica at home. Yeah, another no-no on your list.

We named our son William to keep with my husband's family tradition. They are all William as far as I know. We just decided to call him Liam (the last four letters of William) because we didn't want to go with Billy or Bill. Will or Willy was no good either since it means, ahem, something completely different in Australia (where my husband's parents still live) and in the UK.

As far as ethnicity goes, I don't care for first names that don't really match the surnames, like Esperanza Smith or Kirsten Valenzuela. (I mean no disrespect, though, if there is anyone out there with those names.) It just feels a little silly to me.

I'm all for the fun names though and I'm sure you have picked out yet another fantastic name.

Hope all is well with you and your sweet family.

Shells said...

Dave covers most of our rules, but I have a few I use in addition to his. It has to be and feel like a name to me. It can't have negative connotations to me personally. It can't feel pretentious or make a really old person come to mind. For example, Dave loves Angus, but I think of an old drunk guy every time he mentions it. I have no idea why, especially now that I see a lot of people named Angus here, and some are pretty cute.

Geary said...

Re using last names as first names, I am one of those who has one and loves it. My Father once told me he and my Mother agonized over it, and thought I might want to change the spelling to make it easier on me, and I was mightily offended by the suggestion!
Re Kari as a combination of Carol and Geary: That never occurred to me. We took the name from a genealogy chart because I loved it. Anna went to make the whole name musical to pronounce, and I still call you KariAnna just because I love the sound of it.
I am fascinated by the range of considerations that people have for naming their children. I think my girls have all thought from time to time that their own names were somewhat weird, but I can't imagine them being called anything else.

The LDSMommy said...

I like your naming guidelines. We never really had guidelines, but we each made a list of names we liked, and went from there. As for our oldest, Michelle - not that common for girls her age (15) - my husband said he thought it would be nice to have a little girl names Michelle; I decided I could live with that, so Michelle she became. Her middle name is Kristine - the scandinavian spelling. Our youngest is Sarah Elizabeth - not original, but we just felt like that was supposed to be her name. It just fits her. If we had another child (which we aren't - we're done like dinner with that phase of life), and it was a girl, I'd want to give her a family name that is no longer common, such as Signe (after my grandmother, which I looked up on NameVoyager - you should check it out!) or Alice (NOT Euphemia). By the way, I had a great-great grandmother named Kari - same spelling, great name! Heidi P.

Melissa said...

Well I don't really need to add my guidelines because they're pretty much those you already gave. Which I LOVE. You couldn't have said it better. And I'm seeing the value in the 2-syllable thing... "Van" is not only hard to really catch the boy's attention, but I often have to say it twice for people who ask what his name is. I HATE that. I think we'll shoot for 2 from here on out. Can't wait to hear what #3 is for you! Although Spanky could be really really fun. :)

Heather M. said...

We had one set of criteria for a girl, another for a boy, though both with a family middle name.

For a girl, it had to be workable in spanish and english. That, and a strong name, whatever that means. We clearly like the the boy-girl sharing of a name thing, though, since she is Alexandra Fisher, goes by Alex since birth. Fisher is a family name on my mom's side, a tribute to her family. If Colin had been a girl he would have been Daniela Isabel. There's the boy-girl thing again.

As for boys, we just wanted any name we could agree upon. We could probably name 20 girls without much of a discussion, but were hard-pressed to come up with one for a boy, though his middle name had been decided forever. Colin Antonio, Antonio being a major name on my husband's side.

We also believe fully in proper spelling of names, and actual names, not made up things. And, preferably not in the top 10. Strangely, all through elementary school, there were exactly 2 other Alex's in her grade. All girls, all Alexandra. Go figure. :)

Looking forward to meeting "Spanky!"

Chels said...

I'm with you on the "no calling by the middle name" rule. Bryan's first name is actually Matthew, and it is the most irritating thing in the world. Every time we fill out paperwork, book plane tickets, or do anything "official," confusion ensues? "Matthew? Er, uh, Bryan...?" Bryan's mom's reasoning was that she didn't want him to have the initials "BM." Oh, Nancy.

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