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Otto and Konrad*

I was reading Clover Lane’s post on baby names this morning. She made some funny and interesting observations about the perils and theories of baby naming. Here are some thoughts inspired by her post.

My 7 children’s names are divided into eras. I didn’t do this intentionally, but my little groupings are embarrassingly apparent.

1. Darby O’Cabbage and the Frosted Little Leprechaun

These babies are known to everyone as Aidan and Ryley. Their names have Celtic origins and are strongly associated with a little emerald isle.

When we named Aidan, nobody was named Aidan. We found it in a baby name book cleverly called Name Your Child, by Laureina Rule. It was published in 1969. Aidan was in the GIRLS half of the book. Now our daughter shares a name with 25,000,000 first-grade boys.

Ryley’s name was chosen because it fit him so well. It still does. When he was born, he didn’t look like the name we liked. Ryley was all feet and hands with a tiny button nose. He was a rabbit. Rabbits aren’t named Alexander. They are named Ryley.

2. The Bible Belt Boys

…and along came Samuel, Thomas, and Joel.

Around here, they go by Sam, Tommy, and Joely.

Sam could have been Theodore. More than once after he was born I called him “Teddy.” Oops. He is not Teddy. He is so-Sam.

Thomas was always going to be Tommy. I’d ponder what a dangerously common nickname Tommy is…but then, I couldn’t think of one example of a real-life child Tommy outside a 1950s comic book. Tommy is so common, it’s uncommon. It has the perception of being everywhere. In reality? Tommy has a unique name. It’s like the name Rover for a dog. You think it’s everywhere, but a survey in a veterinarian’s waiting room will reveal Max, Chelsea, and Gretchen.


Joel’s name was chosen as my husband and I flipped through a Bible at church on Sundays between May and October 18th, 2003. We should have been listening to the message. Instead, we watched each-other’s face when we’d point to names like Abimelech and Enoch. Joel always made us smile and shrug. Joel. Minor prophet, major message. Joel. We kept coming back to it. Flip flip church is already over?

3. Dotty British Pensioners with Rose Gardens

Meet Beatrix and Archie.

Beatrix is Beatrix. She is one extreme child, full of life and passion, passion and life. Maybe it’s the “X” factor? We had several possibilities when we named her, including the variation of Beatrice with a nice, sweet and soft C. Beatrix and Beatrice are two completely different people. A few nights before she was born (3 weeks early), my husband and I sat in a parking lot slurping Chik-fil-a handspun chocolate shakes. We talked about baby names, not knowing if she was a boy or a girl. If she were a boy, she would have been….


Archer Edmund is his given name. The only time I call him Archer Edmund is when he is turning on the xbox, ejecting the disc, pushing it back in, and looking up, expectantly, at the big TV screen. Archer Edmund is a genius at electronics AND growing roses. You’ll see.

Otherwise, Archer Edmund is Archie. It’s a friendly old name with some pop culture baggage. More than once, we’ve been asked about Jughead and Veronica’s whereabouts.

Those are the twins coming in 2011.

*names from the future Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance! phase, coming in 2014.

20 comments to Otto and Konrad*

  • OH. SO MUCH TO SAY on this post. (Sorry for the raised voice. I do love to talk about baby names and I have been utterly captivated by your choices since the first day we “met.”)


    Like Aidan’s name, Dacey’s name came straight from the pages of a baby name book. People always assume because of its uniqueness that it is a family name. It’s a little anti-climatic to reveal the truth – it’s the only name in the entire book Kyle and I could agree upon. Also, like Aidan, my own name was COMPLETELY unique when my parents chose it in 1977. I really love my name, but I’m afraid Megans are a dime a dozen these days.

    The Bible Belt boys – LOVE IT. We have also flipped through Bible pages when we should have been listening to the sermon! We had some good candidates from there, but yes, mostly boys names which we haven’t gotten to use (yet).

    And SO true about Tommy. The one and only Tommy I know is a friend of a friend in his 30s. I bet your Tommy walks through life in utter uniqueness.

    Finally, Beatrix and Archie with the rose gardens. LOVE IT. I totally agree there is a world of difference between BeatriX and BeatriCE. Absolutely.

    If God adds more to the Lifenut crew, I know your name choices will continue to delight.

    I think I asked you about your name choices a long time ago (or maybe I just thought I did). So thankful you wrote it all up for us!
    .-= Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog ..Well, that is one way to meet people . . . =-.

  • Love your names…and love that you did what I did…kind of changed pace halfway through…one thing I can find in common about my kid’s names…they all HAD to have a strong meaning behind them.
    .-= Sarah@Clover Lane´s last blog ..A Happy Topic!!!! Baby Naming…My Favorite Pastime =-.

  • B

    Yea! Can’t wait to meet Otto & Konrad! Names are so fun. I like to find names with a meaning I love too. I was deeply tempted by Aiden, but it was far too popular in 2003. Archie always makes me think of the BBC series, “Monarch of the Glen.”

  • Carrie

    We have two girls and a last name beginning with Z. We lamented their losing their Z’s at marriage, so we managed to get a Z in each girl’s first name. Along with a long A and a Y. Because we’re weird like that.

    Azelynn – got it from A Certain Slant of Light by Cynthia Thayer, though it was Azelin in there and supposedly means “spared by Jehovah” (humongo prenatal complications). 90% of people mispronounce it as “Azzlynn,” which drives me bonkers. PHONICS, people.

    Mayzie – original spelling from old timey days is Mazie, but we knew everyone would say Mazzie and again drive us insane. We just liked this one. I first saw it spelled as “Maezi,” which is just cruel. Plus this way she can wear a daisy on her head for Halloween. 🙂

  • I, too, have a common dog’s name. I’ve actually known of 3 dogs of people who I know who share my name. Way to go, Mom & Dad. Coincidentally, my sister has an even more common dog’s name – Maggie. For what it’s worth, Gretchen was on my list for baby girls. Odd, considering what a different category it is from the name we chose. I suppose they both fall into the everyone’s-heard-of-it-but-no-one-knows-anyone-with-it category.

    I love hearing what people choose to name their babies – not sure why it is so fascinating to me, but it sure is.
    .-= Anonymouse´s last blog ..and they didn’t even grade my test =-.

  • I think you have some great names in there. When we named our kids we didn’t notice anyone else with those names. Two weeks later, suddenly everyone was naming their babies those names.

    Funny how that works sometimes…
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..Shameless Request =-.

  • edj

    I love your kids’ names. They achieve my own goals for my kids’ names–real names, but uncommon and not trendy. Funny about Tommy, isn’t it? I know one. But our last name is super-common, so we couldn’t even go with the common-in-50s-comics kind of common.
    .-= edj´s last blog ..In which I attempt a metaphor that may be just too forced, and blithely switch persons & tenses =-.

  • edj

    OH–one more comment. We unintentionally gave our kids all vowel names; Elliot, Abel and Ilsa. We always joked we would have another set of b/g twins and name them Owen and Ursula, and then take in a foster child named Yolande.
    .-= edj´s last blog ..In which I attempt a metaphor that may be just too forced, and blithely switch persons & tenses =-.

  • Can’t wait to dance with Jughead, Veronica, Otto and Konrad. In our black tights.

    In fact, I’m as happy as a little gehl.

    Brilliant post, as always!
    .-= Lori in Denver´s last blog ..Perfect Moment Monday: Counterbalance =-.

  • Oh how I love this. Your kids have gorgeous names. (Don’t tell the boys I said that)
    .-= Heth´s last blog ..They Weren’t Kidding =-.

  • I’m pregnant with our first baby, due in March, and have been doing lots of thinking about names. (I guess technically I’m pregnant with our second, since I had a m/c last year very early, but so far at week 18 this one seems to be going well…) I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have always loved your kids’ names. I also love Aidan for a girl, but I have a close cousin who had a son named Aiden, and so feel like I probably shouldn’t use it. I think we’ll probably at least start with sort of an “old testament-y” feel to our names, but maybe depending on how many we have we’ll end up changing some, too. I also like the name Micah for a girl (one of my bosses has a daughter named Micah) but have another friend with a son named Micah, so that is probably off the list, too

    Anyway…this was a fun post. I feel like I should spend some time perusing a baby name book, just to get some more ideas.

  • I love your kids’ names.

    I love that you categorized them.
    .-= Kristin´s last blog ..Saying Goodbye =-.

  • Oh I just love naming our kids!!! One of them we weren’t convinced on a middle name so we went hunting for a middle name during contractions… the joy of home birth you can surf and breathe!!! We have a list of names and trouble is we keep having kids to fit their names!!! Your kids have stunning names – totally love them and the phases of life!!!
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..The Celebrity Chef Tries Jamie Oliver’s Mega Chocolate Fudge Cake in Se7en Steps… Pass It On Recipe. =-.

  • Love this synopsis of your names…. when there are that many of them, you have to wonder where people get their inspiration!

    Our daughter’s name is the name we chose is the baby came out quiet… if she came out screaming, she was going to be a Riley Ann… Our son’s name was our boy name with #1… we liked it enough that it lasted 4 years til the next kid! If he’d been a girl, he’d have been Charlotte or Jessica… he’s happy he’s a boy!
    .-= Jill´s last blog ..Day two =-.

  • a) Thank you for the link to Clover Lane. I clicked through and promptly fell in love.

    b) I love that you did this. Naming Charlotte was far and away my favorite part of pregnancy lol, even better than the hiccups, and I love reading about other peoples’ naming choices. Our big thing is older, classic names. Easy to spell, easy to pronounce, not overwhelmingly popular, simple names. Twenty minutes after Charlotte was born, the nurse put her footprints and her name on he bassinet to ID her. It said Sharlet. So much for easy to spell.
    .-= Sarah @´s last blog ..Before. =-.

  • Gretchen

    All but the first of our boys have Bible Belt names. When we were picking names, boys were named Hunter, Dylan, and Chase. My husband banned Christopher because there were 3 other Chrises in his class (and 4 girls with variations!) He banned James, Robert, Stephen, Patrick. All these were common when we were growing up. NOW? Now boys are named Noah, Caleb, Levi. Oops. Not so many Micahs, but as someone pointed out, now there are girls named Micah. And he allowed Jacob. Not getting that, since it’s been in the top 5 boys names for oh 30 years or something. We have a Samuel too. I knew a few growing up, but I guess there were no Sams in his class. We won with Troyer, though. I have only ever found one other boy named Troyer, and it was chosen for the same reason we picked it.

    As for Gretchen, I am SO with you on that one. When I first met my husband, the first thing he said to me was, “My neighbor had a rotweiler named Gretchen!” UGH He had actually never met an actual human being named Gretchen before. Still, I really like my name. OUR name 🙂

  • Rae

    heh heh heh. You are so funny. I love the English pensioners, and your description of Archie’s technological abilities. Sounds like my house. Not the English pensioners bit- we are the many parts of Africa, with some crazy bible prophets and princes mixed in.
    .-= Rae´s last blog ..I promise I’m going to bed as soon as I hit publish =-.

  • My daughter has a dog’s name, and my son’s name rhymes with the following words: trasher, crasher, smasher, flasher, masher, stasher. Still, the names fit, and I love ’em.

    You KNOW I list your kids’ names off in my head when I’m having trouble going to sleep.
    .-= Rach´s last blog =-.

  • I LOVE this post, but then I have a freakishly freakish obsession with baby names. You’ve done WELL.

  • As it turns out, I have YOU to thank for my recent posting of Blog Crack. I was reading archives and came across this post–LOVE it. (Can’t help whispering to you that Archer is one of my all-time favorites for a boy and yours is the only one I’ve ever heard of–ssh! don’t tell anyone)

    I read this and all your comments, then I read the link to Clover Lane and all her comments and one of the comments lead me to the Swistle blog.

    These kinds of trips are one of the reasons why yours is one of my favorite blogs to read! Thanks, Gretchen!

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