What's in a Name? Round 2

So, have you heard?

Charlotte is going to have a baby SISTER! Yep, our little baking pumpkin is a GIRL, and we couldn’t be happier.

Now, another girl means we need another name. And we’ve got one.

Of course, we had already used one of the best names ever on our Charlotte. We had a frontrunner name that we loved for #2, but we needed to do our due diligence and be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN it was our favorite. So, Chris and I busted open a box of popsicles and spent a couple hours going through EVERY SINGLE GIRL NAME IN THE UNIVERSE.

After 2 hours, here was our short list:


Well, we had to let Nora go, because Chris pointed out that we couldn’t have one daughter share a name with the great Charlotte Bronte, and the other with the crappy commercial fiction writer, Nora Roberts. “You’re right,” I said. “That’s like having one kid named Shakespeare and the other named Danielle Steel.” Nora was out, though I loved her character in Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man. SIGH.

I lobbied hard for Juliet, but the name had that hard “T” sound at the end, like Charlotte. Like Chris, I’m not a big fan of naming kids like they’re part of a set (pretend I didn’t type that when you get to the explanation for the name Jane), and having a CharloTTE and JulieT was just too cutesy and matchy-matchy.

Next came Clara. I loooooove the name Clara, but the middle name (I’ll tell you in a second) was pretty much set in stone for me, and Clara plus #2’s middle name equal the name of a Disney character on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Good-bye, Clara.

Emma was an extremely tough one to let go. Chris really loved Emma, as did I, and although its popularity has been dropping the longer Friends has been off the air, it’s still really, really popular. Too popular, we decided, though I think the name is timeless and beautifully simple. Oh, and my great-grandmother was named Emma. Just saying. The fact that Charlotte will likely eclipse Emma in popularity shortly made crossing Emma off the list particularly painful.

Then came Penelope. I think Penelope is so freaking cute, but I’m not crazy about the nickname “Penny.” We debated for a long time, as Chris really liked Penelope too, but we agreed we simply liked our frontrunner name more.

Margaret was also on the shortlist when we were expecting Charlotte. I adore the name Margaret, but we have a niece named Maggie, who also has a cousin named Margaret, and it just seemed like too much Margaret–Maggie madness. It’s a great name, though.

Finally, Jane. I love the pretty simplicity of Jane. And, well, maybe a little piece of me liked the idea of having one daughter sharing a name with Charlotte Bronte and the other sharing a name with Jane Austen (okay, so there’s a “set” element there, but come on!). Chris just couldn’t get there. “I think of Plain Jane,” he said. “And it’s just too short.”

By the time we went to bed, we were in agreement. If we had another little girl—and it looks like we will!—we’d name her what we had originally come up with:

Lorelei Belle.

The reactions to this name have been . . . varied. But hey, not everyone loved Charlotte’s name either.

Why Lorelei? Why Belle?

Lorelei is technically a German name, though I don’t know any Germans named Lorelei. But really, that’s neither here nor there. Lorelei refers to a rock in the Rhine that, according to folklore, was dominated by Lorelei water maidens who would murmur and lure sailors and ships to it, causing them to crash, sink, and drown. The Deutschland–rock–sea version of a man eater, if you will.

As my father-in-law said, “That’s an appropriate name for the daughter of a women’s studies major.”


Chris and I take great delight in this little piece of German folklore. And while we like the idea of a powerful girl who can destroy men at whim, we mostly just think the name is pretty, not too common, and strong. The fact that it is German scored a few points as well, seeing as how this child of ours will contain a great deal of bloodlines stemming from the Fatherland. (And we wonder why her big sister is so, so stubborn!)

Lorelei’s middle name, Belle, is a family name. As I mentioned a couple years ago in my post of why we were giving Charlotte Marie her name, my mom’s mom (named Marie) passed away about a year before I was born. My middle name is Marie, and Charlotte’s middle name is Marie.

A little while after I was born, my grandpa married a sweet, sweet woman named Belle, whom he had known since they were children in rural Missouri. She was widowed and had had no children of her own. She embraced being a grandma to us.

Are we related by blood? No, but I was missing a grandma on my mom’s side, and she filled that role. She continues to fill it today, and has flown from California to Maryland TWICE to see her granddaughter and great-granddaughter—and she’s in her late 80s!

I don’t mean to imply that Grandma Belle replaced my “real” grandmother. Not at all. After all, take a look at my aunt, my mom, my daughter, and myself, and you can’t deny that all four of us share chocolate-brown eyes, STRONG opinions that drive the men in our lives bananas, decent fashion sense, and, if I do say so myself, a pretty good dose of intelligence—and that, my friends, trickled down from Grandma Marie.

But Grandma Belle was the only grandma I knew on my mom’s side. She’s unbelievably sweet, steady, good-natured, and just plain old GOOD. She loves wit and humor, nothing escapes her notice, she possesses the patience of Job, and frankly, she adores my brother and me. All good things.

I love, love, LOVE that we’ll have daughters named Charlotte Marie and Lorelei Belle. Two awesome little girls carrying on names of two awesome women.

And THAT’S how we got to Lorelei Belle.


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