Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Name Game

We had Arabella's and Oliver's names picked out very early on and really didn't waver from them. In fact, "Bella" and Oliver were picked out YEARS before they even existed as people. My sister was the one who put the final puzzle piece in place when she suggested Arabella during my first pregnancy.

We never had a third name like that. Nothing all set to go that had stuck with us for years. It's kind of fun starting from scratch but it's also daunting, especially when we are going the surprise route so we need two sets of names ready to go. I've looked in books, on baby name websites, on message boards and have kept an ongoing list in my phone which Raj and I have talked through several times. But we can't quite decide. He likes some names that I'm meh about (or have a negative association) and I love some names that he is like, "Really!?" about. As it goes, of course.

So (perhaps against my better judgement) I'm going to do a little crowdsourcing for ideas. We have a boy name we are pretty set on, but surprisingly (to me) the girl name is where we are having trouble. I like more girl names than boy names, but there isn't one name that stands out from others quite yet.

I would love it if you guys would read through these lists and see if there are name ideas or variations I'm overlooking. I don't know if it's fair to ask this, but I would prefer any negative feedback be left unsaid. In other words, if you can avoid saying "I hate [insert name here]. Reminds me of [insert unpleasant thing here]" that would be much appreciated. I ask this because I am a hormonal mess prone to hurt feelings but also because there is a good chance that another reader has a child named [insert name here]. Love and kindness, moonbeans and kittens! Feel free to turn to your spouse and have a good "WTF is she thinking with [insert name here]!" if need be, though. I have no problems with that and there are names on both lists below that give raised eyebrows to either Husband or me.

Okay. So here are things we like in a name that have guided our choices thus far:
  • We like names that give options. So names that are a bit longer are usually more appealing as they offer more nickname choices. We like names that work while they are little ("Bella" "Ollie") but transition well into adult/professional lives ("Arabella" "Oliver").
  • We like a wee bit of flair.
  • We generally like obvious pronunciations and spellings.
  • I'm okay with a name being somewhat popular as from what I have read there will never again be a "Jennifer" type situation because no one name is that popular. However, we probably wouldn't pick a super popular one-syllable name because it wouldn't offer nickname options.
  • We have found ourselves favoring British names, but there is no particular reason for that.
  • Our fake last name (per the Love Story series) is "Rijwani" but it's close enough-ish that you can keep that in mind for how the full name flows.
  • We aren't tied into any of the above guidelines.
Et voila, the lists!

Boy Names

Girl Names
Liliana (Lily)

So what do you think? Any fun ideas? Any names jump out at you more than others? 

Laura Marie, a lady with a solid first name she has always liked (I mean, Laura Ingalls Wilder, yo!) and a very popular middle name that she has never minded sharing with 50% of the females her age


  1. I like Leo and Garrett as I like solid traditional name. I like some of the other boys names as well but for my own personal taste they feel much trendier.

  2. I like Poppy and Wren in the girls names but my favorite is Pippa. Joss was suppose to be Phillipa Jocelynne and called Pippa or Pipi but husband kept pushing for Jocelynne as a first name and to be honest when they handed me that baby I was so happy I would have agreed to call her Moon Clover Zappa Shinning Star or what ever the celebrities are doing these days

  3. I can see your boy being a Leo! I recently say a William and they called him Liam which I loved!!!
    The girls names are adorable! I love the Lily and Ruby!

  4. How about Elliot (Eli) or Henry for a boy? Both of those names seem to "go" with your other kids names. Out of your list, I love Liliana (Lilly) and Catriona (Cat?) for a girl. My personal fav for a girl is Anna, it feels very classic.

  5. It is very interesting to me to hear what people are naming their children, now that I am in Sweden I have often had some wtf moments as Swedish names can be very confusing to a non Swede such as my sister in law named her daughter Saga and I was like ummm like a book but according to my husband in Swedish it is a lovely name!
    Anyways I really really like Imogen, seems like someone I would really want to be friends with and she would have awesome clothes and be good at doing her makeup.

  6. Leo is the name of my beloved late grandfather and my beloved one-year-old nephew. I adore that name and the gentlemen who carry it. Gaah... hormones. Now I'm all teared up.

    Girls' names are harder, I think, but I've never really had to come up with one. I like Liliana/ Lily and it feels like a nice counter to Arabella/ Bella. Juliette is classic. And Layla is one of the best rock songs of all time. You have good options there!

  7. I like Eliza (Elizabeth), Janie (Jane), and Ellen (Ellie) for girls names. I also really like Liam (William) for a boy.

  8. I am biased because I have a Leo! I adore that name, plus I think it sounds the best with Bella and Ollie. Love Juliette, jules. And Ruby too. Try screaming all three names at the top of your lungs - what rolls off the tongue the smoothest? haha. I'm kind of kidding but not.

  9. Oh fun! I loooove talking names :) And you have a fantastic list! I ADORE Leo for a name and I think it sounds great with your other children's names as well. BUT I don't think there is a nick name for it, as it sort of already is a nickname. That being said, I'm not a huge fan of any of it's longer versions. I also love Grayson, Bennett, and Hudson. All 4 of these were on our baby names list at some point in time! A suggestion for a boy name is Theodore (nn: Theo). I love love love this name so much and I think it is similar to and would flow well with your other children's names.
    For girls, of course my favorite is Lila ;) I can tell you from first hand experience it is also not a nicknamey name. That being said, we call Lilah, LJ a lot (not my fav nickname, but it just sort of happened), so you could do something like that if you went that route with this name or any other that isn't "nicknamey." My other favorites from your girls list are Isla and Violett. But I think that Aurora is cute and would actually sounds best/most like your other children's names.
    Happy naming!!

  10. Leo has my vote for the boy. Poppy and Lily are my votes for girl. Good luck!

  11. Oh also, love the name Pippa as a nickname. I knew a girl growing up named Philomena nn: Pippa. Could also work as a nn for Penelope maybe?!

  12. Love the name game and that you share!!

    Top pick: Leo and Isla, for sure. All are lovely---it's hard to find a third 'good' name that fits with other kids!!

  13. Oh so fun!!! I love thinking about names! It's so fun to see what others are thinking.... so, as I read through the list, I tried to picture saying the three kids names together. I kind of think they have to sound similar in order to "go together." So, for boys, I really like Leo and Grayson. Both seem to go with the "theme" you have for the other two kids names. For girls, I like Liliana, Madeline, Amelie and Anya.

    And, I am SOOOO with you on the nickname thing - do you think it stems from that fact that neither of us have built in nicknames? That was a huge requirement for both my kids thus far, although oddly, our top contender for girl name baby #3 has no built in nickname.

    Also, SO fun that you get to have both choices ready for delivery! I thought that was one of the most fun parts about not knowing... also a tad stressful because you had to have two names ready!

  14. My brother's name is Kieran, but his nickname from childhood (Kip) stuck HARD. I think my parents meant for everyone to start calling him Kieran at some point, but we all forgot and now even thinking of him as "Kieran" blows my mind a little. The nickname-to-fullname transition can be a tricky one!

    I love Pippa, Juliette (Jules), and Imogen. Do you think you will settle on a final name for either a boy or girl, or just come up with a short list and see what they look like? Best of luck with making your choice.

  15. As a long time Brit reader with very English named children (Edward aka Teddy and Florence aka Flossie) I really do like most of your names. Some are very popular here. My favourite.for a boy by far is Austin. Also, Theodore is a lovely alternative. Isla is my.favourite of your girl.choices. I know a good.few little.Islas and you cant go.wrong! Beatrice is also a name I love. Good luck!

  16. I was just thinking about asking you if you had names picked out yet! This is so fun! My personal fav if you have a boy: Leo! That name is so cute! Grayson and Hudson are nice too, and really that whole list is pretty fantastic.
    For your girl baby: Liliana goes really well with Arabella - Bella and Lily. I can see them being best sister-friends forever. :) I also like Ruby, Isla, and Pippa (would that be short for Phillipa?) Thanks for sharing your lists!

  17. Great list-- I would also add the business card test to your list. ie, how would it look on a business card?

  18. I like most of your boy name choices - faves are Bennett and Leo because I think they flow nicely with your other names (Bennett/Bella a tad similar though). I know of a few girl Kiernans just FYI if that bothers you at all.

    Girl names are tough, especially when considering your other kiddos. Liliana, Isla, Lila, Madeline, Imogen and Juliette are my faves. Especially Juliette because of Juliette Barnes from Nashville :) My very favorite of all girl names is Jane - Janie.

    I'm pretty sure if we had a third it'd just be called Three because there are no other names we would be able to agree on. Annie and Luke were very easy but after that - there are none. Good luck! I know many love this discussion and decision but it gives me hives of anxiety to think about.

  19. For a girl you have a lot of flower names - why not go straight to Flora?


  20. Ah, I think names are the hardest! We still weren't 100% decided until we were at the hospital with both girls. We ended up with Annabelle and Josephine. Like you mentioned, we like the variety of options for nicknames and that the names can grow with the girls.

    From your girl list, I really like Juliette and Liliana! Good luck with the decision!

  21. Maybe some other things to think about to help you narrow the list down: I think it's fun for each child to sort of 'own' their initial. Bella kind of steals two initials, so with A and B and O taken the other names stick out more to me. Also, I'm a sucker for name meanings. So maybe pick a few of your favorite names and look into what they mean. That might help one name stand out more than another. I think you have a lot of great choices, I don't know how you'll narrow them down, but maybe my two cents will help a bit. :)

  22. I love Bennett! Grayson is a name that has def grown on me. We have had a hard time naming too, waiting until after the boys were born to decide. It gets much harder after the first for sure. As for girls, I know Madeline has become quite a bit more popular in recent years. You have a long list of variety there for sure. I also think Lila flows super well with your other 2 names. Good luck!

  23. ahhhhhh.....my favorite topic of ALL time - BABY NAMES!

    of your current boys' list, my favorites are Leo, Holden, and Bennett.
    Other ideas: Benjamin (Benjy for short!), Isaac, Hayden, Lucas (Luke and Luca are great nicknames), Sebastian, Miles, Mason, Dominic, Caleb, Patrick

    of your current girls list, my favorites are Violet, Juliette, Azalea, Madeline, Ruby, Lila.
    Other ideas: Delilah (could be Lilah for short), Juliana, Jordanna (love Jordy for short), Amelia (similar to your Amelie), Kayla, Stella, Elizabeth (so many nickname possibilities), Arianna, Kaitlyn, Elliana (or something with Ellie for short), Brianna, Miranda or Miriam (love Miri for short), Meredith.

    have you checked out nymbler.com? i love it cuz you can put in names you love, and get suggestions based on your inspirations. also nameberry.com is awesome but you've probably seen that one.

  24. Azalea is pretty, and it reminds me not of a variation but of a similar name of a beautiful little dark-haired girl who plays at the park with my kids - Azaria (pronounced "Ah-ZAH-ree-ah). Might go nicely alongside Arabella, and you could call her (if it's a "her") :) Zara, which is also on your list. Best wishes!


  25. I know what you mean about running out of names for number 3! My favorites are definitely Leo and Wren! Not too trendy, but unique and classic enough that they won't be mispronounced. With my third I wanted Shepherd (Shep) or Willa, but my husband never got on board, so we had NOTHIN until after she was born! Third child problems.

  26. Wow! Popular post. Thanks for all the ideas and feedback - I'm looking forward to re-reading through all the ideas with my husband tonight.

    Question for those of you following the comments: how would you pronounce Isla? I know it's supposed to be "Eye-la" but I find I prefer it being "Iz-la". Just curious what everyone else's thoughts were on that name...

    Jodi - I think you have a great point that our non-nickname names made us look more towards names with NNs. "Raj" would also fall into that category. Interesting!

    Natalie - Excellent point on undoing a nickname. My brother is forever and ever Danny but to everyone else in the world he is Dan and Daniel. I have purposely called Bella "Arabella" half the time and she chooses to use that name sometimes at various places (like dance class or something) so I think that helps keep it in the mix. Even Oliver calls her Arabella sometimes! And we would likely settle on a final name vs a short list, but we'll have to see if we can narrow it down in time :)

    Erin - Good point on girl Kiernans/Kierans. I would prefer not to have a modern day male "Lynn" or similar situation.

    Tami - I have considered whether we want another A-name if we have a girl since that might usurp Bella's A-name - good point!

    Rachel - I will check out that site you mentioned!

    Thanks again, everyone!

  27. I have a running list of baby names, and we surprisingly have a ton of similar picks! So lemme know if you want to confuse yourself with a ton of more choices, and I'll give you more haha! ;) Hudson has my vote from your boy list, and from your girls list I like Zara. Also, just wanted to throw the name "Iris" your way, since you have a few flower choices.. and I think it would be lovely as well!

  28. I just thought of a couple more girl name ideas: Charlotte, and Camilla (or Camille). I love Charlie as short for Charlotte.

  29. Wow, so much Leo love! That's one of my top boy names right now! Dave's still 'eh' about it - but he seems 'eh' about pretty much any name I like!

    Totally with you on starting from scratch. My boy name was ALWAYS Ben, and when Henry didn't feel like a Ben, we came up with Henry pretty quickly. NO idea on this one! I know we have time, but still. It unnerves me. And you'd think after all this time we'd have at least one girl name we both love, but nope. Lily, Lila and Madeline are all on my girl name list. Also really like Grayson for a boy. Another Dave doesn't like.

    Anyway, those are my faves. Good luck!!

  30. Ooh, have always loved Isla, too, that was on both my lists with the boys before we knew they were boys. I think it's kind of out there, though, so I'm not sure I could pull the trigger. I'd fear people always saying it incorrectly. It's so pretty, though!

  31. I like Leo the best from your list with Grayson as a runner-up. If you wanted a long version of Leo, Leopold is a cool option (in my opinion). I also think Theodore would be a wonderful sibling name to your two. For girls, from your list, I like Juliet, Isadora (Izzy would be so cute!), and Liliana the best. To be honest you cannot go wrong with any of the names! As for how I pronounce Isla, I say Eye-la but my mum and hubby both look at it and say Iz-la. I think pronunciation would be fifty-fifty since it is not a particularly common name and most people would probably go with the first glance choice.

  32. Late post I know but hopefully you see this, Baby names are so much fun to talk about I had to join in! I love your boy list, my faves are Holden and Reid, one to think about is Gideon. I thought girls names were so much harder than boy names but from your list I like Juliette and Allegra. I am a purest when it comes to girl names though, the older the better but I totally get the nickname thing. I love boy nicknames for girls so Charlie (Charlotte) or Jo (Josephine). But if you are one for flair, what about Evangeline? There is a beautiful song called Evangeline Rose by Marc Broussard and when I was pregnant and this song reduced me to tears it automatically made my list.

  33. Wanted to chime in on Leo. I adore this name as it is my son's name! So, no hate here---BUT, you would need to be prepared for people to shorten it to Lee or even Lee Lee (which is what happens in my house even though I am not a fan of either of those nicknames). Also, I think that having an Ollie and a Leo or Lee or Lee Lee is a bit too similar sounding--tongue twister-ish. Even Bella and Leo might be a bit similar sounding with the L's---plus you are Laura and that might just be too much. Just my two cents and obviously it is a great name! One other thing about it, and you can see it here from how popular it is in the comments, it is becoming a more popular name lately. I know you say that doesn't bother you but you should keep it in mind. One person suggested Theodore/Theo and I think that could be a great compromise. Sounds good with Oliver too. When I think of names, I often think of that as one I like but then of course I could never have a Theo and a Leo!

    For the girl names---off your list I am going to say Ruby or Violet. I was liking Isla (pronounced Eye-la) but then I remembered that is a bit too similar to Bella. Since you like floral and gem names, how about Iris? Dahlia? I also like the name Lily off your list but that too is quite common these days, if it matters. Naming is hard business! I am sure whatever you choose will be lovely!

    1. My grandfather was named Leo and my grandmother always called him Lee. I always thought it was a sweet nickname, but if you don't like "Lee" then, yes, it's probably best to be avoided.

  34. I would pronounce Isla "eye-la." I know 2 baby Islas and that's how they pronounce it. Good point made by the previous commenter though about Isla and Bellla having similar sounds. Another name suggestion: Pearl. I'm clearly a fan of older names :)

  35. Going purely by your rules and your current names in the family, I think Bennett and Liliana fit perfectly.

    So, depending on what you pick, are the others on the list middle name options - or do you already have those picked out (like after family members, etc.)? That might help, too, if you know the middle names for sure. We did for both, which helped throw out some that just sounded goofy with our chosen middles.

  36. There is one thing (and only one thing) that makes me wistful about being done having babies and that is never naming another baby :)

    I love your lists. I really like British boy names (for obvious reasons) but don't prefer many of the girl ones for some reason. I very very reluctantly gave up on Holden because C and I don't prefer alliteration but I really do love that name. Archer's name up until two weeks before he was born was going to be Kingsley. C got cold feet about it but I still adore the name.

    Of your lists, I really like Bennett for a boy (I think a little Benny would be adorable and Bennett is such a handsome grown-up name). We must have really similar taste as we had Reid, Zane and Grayson on lists at one time or another. I think Grayson is a great fit with the others and I love Gray as a nickname. Really like the suggestion of Theodore nn Teddy too.

    For girls, I like Juliette and Ruby. I think you'll run into trouble if you want an Isla to be pronounced "Iz-la." You'd be better off just spelling it Izla, I think. Aurora is a great name and I think a spunky little thing nicknamed Rory would be so, so cute. If we'd had a girl this time we considered Quinn and Waverly (well, C was NOT sold on Waverly but I loved it).

    Do you have middle names in mind too? What's Oliver's middle? For some reason the girls were discussing their full names the other day and hearing Bella say her full name in her little voice was so cute :)

  37. I loooooove Holden. Yes. For girl names, I'm loving Violet and Juliette. And Bianca. Perhaps because I love Shakespeare. (I always said that if I had girl twins, they would be named Viola and Olivia, like in Twelfth Night. Well, I got my Olivia!) Perhaps Bianca and Bella would be hard to say together. Too tongue-twisty? You have so many awesome names on your lists!

  38. The two that jumped out at me are Reid and Juliette!

  39. Isla would be eye-la to me. That one would be a tough one for me to pick because of the uncertainty of pronunciation. Names that are easy to spell and pronounce are of utmost importance to me.

  40. Thanks again for all the suggestions and feedback. It really helps us with our decision making process.

    Amanda Jones - Interesting point about people still putting a nickname to Leo!!

    Amanda/Jaida - No middle names picked out and no special ones that we want to use. And Oliver's MN is Logan :)

    Crystal - We pretend Bella's full name includes Bianca (along with a last name of HelloKittyPants) for some weird reason so in a way that name is already taken :)

    And thanks for the Isla pronunciation feedback. I have never actually heard it - just seen it in print and that's why I mistakenly thought it was pronounced "Izla." I think it's off the list due to the challenges of proper pronunciation, though I do think it's a very pretty name!

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  42. Love Leo and Holden! Both names I really considered before. As far as your girl names I love Violet, Amelie, Juliet, and Imogen. They are all classic names that will never grow old. When I worked in the hospital setting with patient care I met an older woman named Imogen and fell in love with the name! We were looking into our heritage for names and Amelie was one that we really liked. I Love Amelia but it has become very popular and this was a nice change. Good luck! Baby names are hard

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  44. Fun! Love name discussions! From your boys list, I particularly like Bennett, Garrett, and Leo. Other ideas: Theodore (Theo), Eli, and Emmett. For girls, my favorites from your are Imogen, Liliana (Lily), and Madeline. Other thoughts: Camilla, Adeline, and Brynn. As a sidenote, I also like India for a little girl. How does Raj feel about that one, given his heritage?

    Another Laura (so I completely understand about the nickname/no nickname dilemma. I always wished I had one but was also relieved not to at times also!)

    1. Husband is a little weirded out by naming a baby India and then telling the Indian relatives so while I think it's adorable, it's not really a true contender. :)

  45. Holy crap this post (and all comments) are amazing.

    Leo is/was our number one (family name) until I ran into a slew of them - and judging by the comments, it's only getting more popular! It's so effing sweet. If the popularity factor isn't a scare for you, I would keep that as a heavy contender.

    Bennet/Benny/Ben = Yes.

    What about Julian? I think it's such a handsome name - and the nickname Jules could wet your Brit appetite!

    Violet. All day every day. You're naming her Violet. Flowery and sweet for a child, but easily transitions from young adult to CEO to grandmother. (Also sounds good with your other long vowel'd children)


  46. Love a good baby name discussion! I got tunnel vision when I saw Charlotte. I think it's very versatile and strong. I truly swoon over the nickname Lottie. I agree with the Midwest frigid funk altering moods. Good luck picking the name!

  47. Hello from The Netherlands! I am the mother of Isabella and Benjamin.
    From your list I prefer Bennett for a boy and for a girl several: Violet, Juliette, Isadora, Madeleine and Zara (or perhaps Sarah?).
    Other suggestions: Moritz or William for a boy (or Benjamin?) and Liselotte or Charlotte for a girl?
    Good luck with everything!

  48. I like Grayson or Austin. I would go with Kiernan instead of Kieran.

    For the girl names Juliette is nice.

  49. Oh my word! This has been SO fun to read! I keep checking back coz the comments are great too! I think we all just feel like you invited us over for the best girl convo of all time, baby names!! And since most people IRL don't like to discuss names (for fear they will get stolen or mocked) I think we all have a lot of pent up baby naming discussion that NEEDs to happen!! :-). I love Bennett and Reid. And Violet for a girl, I think. But honestly they are all great name choices. As an Amy, which isn't very nick-name friendly, I love using names with a built in nick name. Which is one of the reasons I used the name Titus for my son. Coz he can go by Ty or TJ (middle name is James), but oddly enough we mostly call him Tidy, which I thought I would hate, but it's how he currently says his name and for now it's cute. I'm curious what we will call him as he gets older, coz somehow I don't think he's going to like to he called Tidy for too long!

  50. I like Austin for a boy. I like Alice or Evelyn for a girl. I love these girl names, however, I will never get to use them. I have three boys, Austin, Zachary, and Paul, and we are done. :-)

  51. I love the name "Leo" and I agree on the tongue twister aspect of "Ollie and Leo" but I actually know twin boys of that name duo. But my favorites are Theo and Liam, and I'm going to throw "Fitzgerald/Fitz" in there too. A nod to a lover of reading, still English sounding, pretty original, and easy to pronounce!

    For girls, I love love Wren. So adorable. And Pippa is amazing. Penelope was my first nanny baby, and Pen is a cool nickname too.

  52. I like your exotic list of girls names! I definitely gravitate toward Leo for boy. It's strong, stands well on it's own, sounds handsome with your last name, and "flows" in a tongue twister but who cares/it's meant to be kind of way.

    I like Amelie for girl, pronounced with an Ah I'm guessing? BUT how about Vienna? Arabella, Oliver, and Vienna. Love!! :)

  53. I LOVE name choosing...like kinda obsessed with it. You have some great choices in there.

    I really like Holden for a boy...and Zane is one of my favorite names...though I would probably use if for a girl and spell it Zain.

    I am totally partial to Zara for a girl. That is my 20 mo old DD's name and I still adore it. I have loved it for years. As Jacqueline posted above, Vienna is actually really pretty. And I have friends whose daughter is Amelie...it is pretty also.

    I am pregnant with #3 too...Tariq (pronounced like Darrick) is our 1st, Zara is a 2nd. If #3 is a boy he will be Moses or Justus. If a girl, she will be Eden. It is so hard and so fun to pick! Good luck!

  54. I LOVE LOVE LOVE choosing names and you have some really great ones on your list!

    I love Holden for a boy. Zane is one of my favorite names, but I actually like it for a girl instead...and spelled Zain.

    I am totally biased towards Zara for a girl as that is what my 20 mo old DD's name is. I have loved it for years and still adore it. It is classy, strong and simple. Love it. Though I really like Vienna like Jacqueline suggested. I have friends who have a daughter named Amelie and it is pretty.

    I am pregnant with #3 and we are currently trying to chose as well. DS #1 is Tariq (pronounced like Derick) and DD#1 is Zara. If this baby is a boy he will be Moses or Justus. If she is a girl she will be Eden. It is so hard and yet so fun to chose names. Good luck! Can't wait to hear what you chose! :)