Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Morag? Hildegaard? Euphemia?... Baby Name Adventures!

The Babe remains Nameless. She is blissfully nameless, but her parents slightly less blissful. I have struggled with a baby naming addiction for three years now, spending hours and hours and hours researching names and thinking about names. In the past I have explained and justified this habit by connecting my name obsession with my interest in language (the necessary precision and suggestive mystery of words). Poetry attempts to name reality, the world that we interact with/move through/leave behind—when we name our children we presume to name another en-souled body, another person. How strange! What a privilege! What a frightening responsibility!

Apparently we are failing in this responsibility. It - is - so – hard! This is the post where I ask your help.

My name must be perfect and possess these qualities:

1. 1. Significance (especially religious, though not limited to)

2. 2. Family Connection (Most of our rejects did not fill this category…)

3. 3. Beauty (and that doesn’t mean sibilant, vowel-y frillies like Isabella, Eleanora, Olivia, etc. We are very much attracted to the more Germanic sounding consonant-heavy monikers as well.)

4. 4. Rarity (I have the social security list of top 1000 names practically memorized. My first name was one of those *very* popular choices back in the 80s, and I disliked being one of many mes in any group. Thankfully, my name was a popular CLASSIC which I love. Still, T.M. and I tend to gravitate toward those names which do not appear on the popularity chart at all, or are ranked no higher than 200…This excludes many nice names such as Sophia, Emma, Audrey and Charlotte.)

A name that fulfills each of these requirements...This isn’t so much to ask—right? WRONG. Though I have a list of hundreds of names we like—nothing has blossomed, nothing sparks joy when I refer to my Inside Baby as Miss X or Little Y. SO, I appeal to you, gentle readers, for help. Below I list a few names from our list—names that have been rejected over the past months. This will give you a feel for our taste. Are any of these old favorites worth saving? Have we missed something similar or related? Your suggestions!!

Iris. I love the sound of Iris—striking, clean, easily recognizable and pronounceable. Though it has no direct family or religious connection, Iris has remained high on our list…till last week when we attempted to call the Small One Iris for a whole day. Something (??) didn’t feel right. Maybe too striking? Cold?

Imogen. I love Imogen. T.M. does not. Imogen is very popular here in the UK as well as Australia. Why haven’t parents Stateside caught on? Easily pronounced (Imma-gen) and bearing similarities to such perennial favorites like Emma and Jennifer. Imogen is the heroine in Willy S’s Cymbeline, virtuous and beautiful. What is the problem here?

Georgia. A feminization of George with the very cute nick-name of Georgie. I am an anglophile. I love St George. I love the sound of this name. But--the State. “Georgia Winter” sounds like the title of a song. Stink.

Lucy. Once again, we’ve got our saint—a virgin martyr no less! And an appealing meaning—light. Adorable sound. Everyone loves the name Lucy. And everyone naming babies loves the name Lucy, which ranked 112 in 2008 (and is still rising). Not going to happen.

Audrey: Same problem as above. Ranked 51 in 2008 and rising.

Beatrice: I like Beatrice a lot, but she sounds cold and too formal for me. I don’t like the nicknames “Bea” or “Trixie.”

Jane: A feminization of John. I love the apostle St John and so have always been attracted to Jane, which I find elegant and simple. But—Jane is plain. Too plain.

Isadora: A feminization of Isadore, and a saints name! Easily pronounceable though very rare. I like the idea of calling her Ida. However: she sounds very close to the white-hot Isabella. AND Isadora Winter sounds like a sentence: “Is a door a winter?”

Consuelo: Spanish name meaning Consolation (especially Our Lady of Consolation). I love the sound. However, I worry that my perhaps-blond daughter might not be able to wear such an exotic moniker. Besides the fact that we are moving back to the boring Midwest where names like “Sophie” and “Charlotte” are considered bold and inventive.

Paloma: I – love – Paloma. Paloma means “dove” in Spanish, which symbolizes the Holy Spirit as well as peace. I love the sound of Paloma. It is beautiful and easy to pronounce even for Mid-west Anglo Americans. If no one else in the world existed, Paloma would be a constant contender for first place. But—once again—whitey white Midwesterners, blond baby, and our own fears about our family’s reaction, keeps Paloma off the table…or safely in the middle spot on the birth certificate.

Jemima: Jemima is our true love. Jemima trumps every name on our list—including Paloma and all the real possibilities we are still keeping secret. We both love Jemima with our whole hearts. The biblical Jemima was the daughter of Job—born after he was restored. A blessing and a renewal. Like Paloma, Jemima means “dove.” Have I mentioned? I love this name. BUT. Jemima, as I have been told time and again, has pancake issues. And worse—carries all sorts of racist baggage, since “Aunt Jemima” brand depicts a stereotyped “mammie” figure on all its boxes. I cry for Jemima, which has none of these problems here in the UK. Here she remains Job's daughter, or the adorable child from Chittie Chittie Bang Bang or Beatrix Potter’s Jemima Puddleduck. Rawrg!

So, here is our reject pile, which sadly includes our Best Beloveds. Any thoughts? Are there any we can pull out and use after all? Can you think of any other names we might have missed???

Thank you!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Marley is a Scottish Easter Egg

Wild Marleys bloom in spring around the same time as Crocuses. Here is one spotted in St Andrews, Fife.

[Click to enlarge.]

Baby Winter at 20 Weeks

Hurrah! I have reached the half-way point in my pregnancy with health/happiness/sanity still intact--as well as a remnant of a waste-line (for now!). Baby Winter is thriving! I am certain of movement now--usually later in the day when I am reading. T.M. even felt a kick the other night while we enjoyed the first episode of Britain's Got Talent...Maybe Baby's Got Talent too? ...we hope something a bit more edifying that extreme belching or timbrel playing.

We had our 20 week scan this week and we are pleased to announce that Baby Winter is A GIRL!!! We are "over the moon," as one says... However, Girl Baby throws a wrench into the naming game. We have had a boy name picked out for three years, but despite my baby name *obsession* we haven't found a girl's name that approaches anything near perfect. I grow more apprehensive every day, fearing to give birth to Nameless Baby. (More on Naming in a Future Post!)

Here is the latest photo of Nameless Winter. You can see her profile--nose, lips, chin tucked into her chest--but you must stare for a bit to figure things out:

Here is another picture of a twenty-week inside-baby:
From what I can tell, Girl Winter weighs about 8-10 oz and is about 6-8 inches long (head to rump). My belly is finally beginning to become round and I am now putting on weight (no wonder since I eat *all* the time). Unfortunately, I still don't look pregnant as I waltz through St Andrews with my clothes on...perhaps a bit thicker and clunkier, but nothing a diet of fish and chips couldn't accomplish in 20 weeks. I look forward to looking seriously pregnant. AND I look forward to looking slender again some day AFTER baby comes. (Fingers crossed!!) Here is my 20 week shot:
And here compared to my waif-like thinness at 9 weeks:

This is all the important Child News for today! Stay tuned for the Baby Names Post!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Holy Week and the Gates of Hades

Thomas More and I just returned from the Eternal City, where we enjoyed Triduum and very much wonderful Italian food. Instead of a lengthy post describing the trip I am including the video we made (see below), which I hope you will enjoy!

I will say this: this Lent has been a particularly difficult time for me spiritually. Scandal in the Church--which has created anguish in the hearts of ALL faithful Catholics--has also troubled me deeply. I had hoped to spend Lent in prayer for both the victims of abuse as well as for the Church universal--that we all might have renewed hope in Jesus who saves--who HEALS. As part of the Church Body I also wanted to participate in the penance that the Church must undergo as part of this healing process. When one part of the Body sins, when one part becomes corrupt, the healthy members must take responsibility for the corruption. We must lay our lives down for our brother and sister (both sinner and sinned against).

My hope of fruitful and penitent prayer was only partially realized this Lent. I found myself severely distracted by the sick media coverage of the Church scandal here in the UK. In all likelihood you understand perfectly well what I refer to, and don't want to hear any more about it, so I won't go into further detail. But I will say this: The current media hysteria places the faithful Catholic in a strange situation. The Church is in mourning for the damning sins that were committed under her roof. We want to repent corporately, to cure the disease, to cleanse our Body. But we are, at the same time, forced to defend every tenant of our religion (theology, structure, discipline, morality) to an angry secular world/media who uses the sins of the few to cast shadows on the many.

This Lent, I hated that I allowed myself to be driven from a posture of prayer, penance, and faith into a defensive stance--into anger (justified!--journalists were lying!). However justified my outrage, I allowed my mind to wander from the figure of Christ who stands at the center of Lent: the fasting, suffering Body who paid for the sins of the Church and the sins of the world--who paid for the lives of whores and adulterers, hypocrites and pedophiles--who paid for those sins too--even those.

Going to Rome for Triduum reminded me of what I had nearly forgotten: the suffering Christ, the Risen Lord who will defend His Church and strengthen her. I was deeply touched by the thousands and thousands of people crowded around the Colosseum for the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, all trying to pray the Our Father together in a hundred different languages. I was moved by the multitude of worshipers on Holy Saturday in St Peters--thousands of priests and religious, thousands and thousands of kids in their twenties, praying together in line hours before Mass. I was blessed by receiving the Body of Blood of Christ along with all these, and with all Catholics all around the world.

During the Vigil Mass T.M. and I sat in one of the transepts facing the high altar. We had a perfect view of one of my favorite mosaic-paintings in St Peters, which depicts Peter walking on the waves towards Jesus. Or rather--Peter FALLING INTO the waves--with a look of desperate panic etched on his face. And Jesus catches him as he falls.

Doesn't He always--catch us?

"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Matthew 16:18

Happy Easter