Gnome Encounters

I Really Hate Coming Up With Titles Some Days. (There. Done!)

And two days's still a boy!

What? Not quite as exciting anymore? Damn these follow-up posts. They're such a letdown.

I spent all day yesterday in rapid reverse-gear, solely fixated on my older existing-model child and visiting our kindergarten options for next year. A variety of special education flavors and regular strength. I started off the day with a pre-existing belief in one of them, only to end up with that belief shaken and stirred and coming home to wail that I DON'T LIKE ANY OF THEM, EVERYTHING IS WRONG. One option is too this and the other is too that. 

I still haven't come to any great revelations about the day and the experiences and what I saw, other than to randomly decide that I think I'm going to sign Noah up for a karate class. That will solve...none of the big issues at hand, but it's a DECISION. About SOMETHING. Everybody golf clap. DO IT. 

Oh, and I bought like, five boxes of chocolate truffles. They were on sale, because they're tied up with Christmas ribbons, and they're practically PRESCRIPTION truffles. Because once again, I showed up at my OB appointment having gained zero pounds. The baby is growing just fine -- super more than fine, if the ultrasound measurements are any indication. His (HIS!) size puts him (HIM!!) about a week and a half ahead of his gestational age. So that's good! He's big and breech. Fantastic. Meanwhile, I can't even keep pre-pregnancy jeans up over my newly bony ass because the baby is getting EVERYTHING while I'm just trying to stay upright in the face of the never-ending preschool germ onslaught. 

But this simply means 1) my pregnancy cravings have been booted to the very top of the priority list, so all I have to do is MENTION that hey, Indian food sounds kinda good to me right now, and BAM, I am stuffing my face with all the Indian food I want, and if I want Chipotle for dessert, my husband is like, legally required to not judge me, plus 2) truffles, and 3) milkshakes. 

In fact, right after the ultrasound, Jason and I went out for breakfast (sausage, egg and cheese sandwich with a full-fat grande Cafe Mocha) and then hit the grocery story to pick out a celebratory dinner (filet mignon, creamed spinach). He's getting kind of worried about how his cholesterol is going to survive this pregnancy, but I'm sorry, honey, it's OUR BABY. SACRIFICES ARE REQUIRED. 

Over breakfast, we agreed that despite having the baby's name about 99% decided for sure, we'll keep it a secret anyway. You know, in case we change our minds or a serial killer with that very name suddenly starts dominating the newspapers for the next four months or so, and besides, we're still currently going back and forth on a middle name.

AND there's the little detail that the name we love and really want is technically a nickname for another name that we're just so-so about. It's a nice name, but not one I really see us ever using. So do we give him the full name, just so he has the option of using something less casual-sounding someday (and weirdly, it's a MUCH easier name to pair middle names with), or just skip the whole "formal name we never actually intend to use that just complicates the birth announcements and school forms" thing and him what we plan to actually call him. 

This is all bothering me much more than Jason. AS USUAL. This was evidenced by him just casually dropping the name out loud while talking to him mother no more than an hour after we agreed to keep it to ourselves. And of course his mom HAAAAAAAAAATES it and thought he was JOKING, like you can't honestly be SERIOUS, you're not really going to CALL HIM THAT. Which wigged me out even MORE, because I thought the conversation would mean Jason would say we had to start ALL OVER, but then he hung up the phone and was like, "Uh, you realize the simple fact that my mother hates it just makes me like the name even more. You should probably get used to this concept at some point, what with having three boys who are going to become teenagers and adults someday."

I told him he was a jerk who should respect his poor, long-suffering mother's opinion more. Except this time, because she's like, totally wrong and stuff. 

Anyway! One last order of business and I'll free you from this meandering mess of barely-connected ramblings: We launched a fun sister site to Mamapop this week, thus expanding that haphazard empire beyond TV/movies/gossip and into the "LIFESTYLE" realm of blogging, which I think mostly just means "interesting shopping/beauty/health/techie/nerd crap that is not about TV/movies/gossip but we still really want to talk about." I dunno. I didn't read that far down the memo. All I know is, IT'S FUN AND I LIKE IT. Also, it's called Moxiebird, and I hope you'll check it out. 



My daughter is selling girl scout cookies. Just sayin'


Congrats on the boy!

I have a formal first name that neither of my parents have ever called me by, not even once, not even when I was in trouble. It has never been a big issue or hassle for me.

On the other hand, since I've rarely ever gone by my full name, there's really no reason my parents couldn't have just named me my nickname.

Whatever choice you make will be fine! However, I am like Jason and enjoy making decisions based on spite.


I just realized one of the main reasons I like your writing is your gratuitous capitalization. It sounds as if you're sporadically yelling, you calm yourself down, then you work yourself back up into a frenzy and must use capitals. I like it, probably because I am an incredible narcissist and do the same thing. er, THING.


You are calling your baby Dick? Really... at least give him the option of Richard.

I'm guessing Charlie or Hank. Love em both. :)


We have the name for our son-in-the-oven picked out but I won't announce it publicly until he's born for one simple reason: I don't need anyone asspinion about it. It's not a common name, and everyone who has heard it has at least done me the decency of *pretending* to like it, but I still don't need to post it to my blog and get six comments telling me why my kid's name is dumb.

I'm also totally with you on the not gaining weight. Baby's growing fine, but I haven't gained a pound in three weeks due to the fact that all of my calories are being burned because I can't stop coughing. Unfortunately, I also have gestational diabetes, and it's really hard to gain weight without the benefit of sweet delicious sugar. Or at least carbs. I'm now attempting to pretty much pad my baby with peanut butter. It's a pain in the ass, really.

Which is to say, if in the next seven weeks you need an excuse for cupcake - go ahead and eat one on my behalf.


Oh! We're currently knee-deep in the same name debate: name her the more formal thing that flows better with the nickname, or the more casual thing we actually intend to call her. We've been in opposing camps for months. In a helpful development, both my husband and I have done complete 180s in the past few weeks...meaning we are still diametrically opposite each other. Sigh.


We have the name for our son-in-the-oven picked out but I won't announce it publicly until he's born for one simple reason: I don't need anyone asspinion about it. It's not a common name, and everyone who has heard it has at least done me the decency of *pretending* to like it, but I still don't need to post it to my blog and get six comments telling me why my kid's name is dumb.

I'm also totally with you on the not gaining weight. Baby's growing fine, but I haven't gained a pound in three weeks due to the fact that all of my calories are being burned because I can't stop coughing. Unfortunately, I also have gestational diabetes, and it's really hard to gain weight without the benefit of sweet delicious sugar. Or at least carbs. I'm now attempting to pretty much pad my baby with peanut butter. It's a pain in the ass, really.

Which is to say, if in the next seven weeks you need an excuse for cupcake - go ahead and eat one on my behalf.


Go with the formal real name! Mine is Margaret and I go by Maggie-- but I use Margaret professionally. It was never a big deal in school or anything, but it's kind of handy now that I use one professionally and one personally.


I love it when you ramble. Truly. I love it.

Um...on names. See, my son is actually named Alexander. We called him Alex from oh second one. I am only thinking we used the whole name because it was a family name. However, I only say it maybe one every few weeks. He, at two, possibly doesn't even get that it's his real name. If the name you are thinking of using, is a nickname, why not use it? Kristen (MU) did. Drew. He's, just Drew. In fact, I think that was her title when he was born. Anyway, I don't think there's anything wrong with it, if you love it.

Chipotle and truffles. I think that's a pretty awesome food plan. My two favorite things.


There is no nickname that could ever beat the Zah. Although I am still pulling for Zebediah.


I totally understand the short/full name conundrum. And that is why I went for Meg and not Megan ... for my laptop.


I named my twins Katherine and Elizabeth. I don't particularly LIKE those names. I liked Katie and Bethie. But I wanted them to have professional names in case they grew up to be lawyers or something. But I've always called them Bethie and Katie. When they went to school, I said "They preferred to be called Bethie and Katie" and that was it. Come to think of it, no one in my family goes by their real name. Robert is called Sean, Sarah is called Sallie, Brian is called Tim etc. So pick the name you like. Everything else works out with little to no fuss.


Please, please give the boy a formal name. It gives a person so many more options and looks professional on important documents such as resumes and such. President Thomas Jefferson sounds much better than President Tom Jefferson. CEO Elizabeth White sounds more professional than CEO Lizzie White. Or it does in my humble opinion.


My parents always intended to call me by my nickname (Nicki) and only gave me my full name (Nicole) as a formality (and to quiet my grandmother). It's... fine. I switch back and forth with ease.


Congrats on the boy! I know everyone is commenting on the name situation but wanted to throw my 2 cents in on the weight gain issue. I had the same issue with my pregnancy and also somehow managed to have gestational diabetes despite not having really gained any weight. Not sure how that worked. My doctor recommended all sorts of shakes and lots of ice cream (hooray). It is really hard to work at gaining weight and you get zero sympathy from people.


my two cents is to give him the "full" name, because that way he has the option of using it (or other nicknames) if he decides to change things up a bit. Unless you hate him having that option. But it doesn't sound like you hate the name that much.

And it's not uncommon for parents and grandparents to hate baby names, mostly because names are very cyclical. Phoebe, for instance, sounds fresh and new to current young mothers, but our mothers and grandmothers think of it as an old-lady name because it was so popular back when. check for the popularity curve.


I never comment (sorry) but I just want to put my guess out there for the record: Eli/Elijah - it goes with the biblical trend.


I'm generally in the camp of "Name the baby what you intend to actually call the baby". This may be because my name is a derivative of a more formal name, which itself is a derivative of a more formal name.

Instances where it squicks me though are with names that are traditionally only a nickname, and also typically associated with super-casual use or that of very young children. Examples: Bobby, Stevie (for a boy), Johnny- you get the idea. Other nickname-but-now-names that are totally cool would be examples such as Chuck, Libby, Abby, Jake.

Julie W

As someone who is named a technical nickname, I vote for the full formal name. Give the kid options for his professional life. But then again I have two boys who probably won't be able to spell their threehundredmillion (25 & 24) letters long full name until they are in college. So there is that too.


Just so long as you don't name your baby the nice name and expect him to never be called the nickcname. My husband's cousin's parents named her Jaquelyn when she was born but told people not to call her Jackie because they hated it. A few months later they legally changed it to Jenna.


Fwiw my husband has an unusual middle name which is the name that he has always been called and a formal first name. In fact, he didn't even know his first name existed until the first day of middle school (his parents were forced to register him with his first name and so that's what was on the roll call list). Even though he never uses his first name he still appreciates having it and likes the formality for things like resumes and other business related stuff. When we got married he changed his last name to mine and I suggested he take the opportunity to drop the never used first name and push everything up (middle to first, last to middle, new last) but he didn't want to. So yeah, I say give the kid the more formal name and call him by what is technically the nick-name.

ps: I'm also technically Katherine, not Kate and I like having the option to go with the more formal on occasion.


As long as you don't give him a first name he'll never use either way is fine. My husband is Michael Joshua and goes by Josh. His dad is Michael Dennis and goes by Dennis. His grandfather was William Joseph and mostly went by Joe. The only upside to this is we know when someone calls for Michael or Mike it's a telemarketer.

I can't wait to hear what you decide once he's born! And hang tough with the name you like even if others don't like it. My parents hate all the names I like for our future imaginary kids and as my husband said "tough titty"! They named their kids, now it's your turn!

Enjoy the truffles! And congrats on finding xmas ones still out and on sale. You should extras to celebrate!


Two data points:

1. My really food friend has a "normal" first name and a crazy middle name. She has always been called the crazy middle name by her family, and still uses it now as an adult. Her parents gave her both names so that she could choose not be stuck with crazy when she got older. They did thise for her 3 brothers also, and ALL of them use the crazy names they were called as children. I would even go so far as to say their personalities and niches in life might have somewhat developed to fit the unconventional names. They all say they would rather have their middle names as first names.

2. We call my son a nickname for his middle name. This level of disassociation from his name of record has caused lots of problems in school - it takes teachers and administrtors several weeks to get it.

I guess my point is: Name him what you intend to call him.

Maybe you can give him the middle name Chipotle?


Ok, we gave the boys long traditional names and call them the "nickname" never a prob until kindergarten- the teacher labels all the class stuff with his long name he has never used. I tell her this repeatedly- they also make him try to write his long name- stupid stupid he is the short name- we will never use the long name. Next year will register him at school under his nickname- duh, right? also- my grandma hated his name- who cares we love it. have fun indulging in the on demand food from someone who gains like 12 lbs the second the pee hits the stick!


"I'm naming her Luna."
Response: "What's her middle name gonna be? Tic?"

"I'm naming her Lily."
Response: "After your mother's nasty burned up glass doll?"

"I'm naming her Natalie."
Response: "Natalie. Nattie. Nat. Gnat. Sounds like a bug."

I named her Isabella and call her Elle or Ella. It was all I could do to keep others from nicknaming her Izzy. Plus, Isabella is really fun to yell when she's in trouble. It's a good trouble name.

I like the idea of the nickname/full name option. Besides, who's to say your child's shortened name (of a non-given full name) won't earn it's own nickname? Call me a control freak.


We gave my daughter the name Eleanor, and called her Ellie...but she has options when she gets older.

We named my son Alexander and call him Alexander...and everyone else shortens it. So, fine. I was joking and called him Bubba a couple of times...and uhm...he thinks his name is Bubba now. (He can rattle off his full name, but if someone asks he says his name is Bubba.)

You did great in naming your other two, I have great confidence in your naming skills for the third.


Go with whatever you wanna call him. Whether it's "Hey, #3!!" or Jack or Zach or Max or Ollie. Just do it!


YES! to Karate. I had a kid much like what I think Noah is like, did Tae Kwan Do for six years -- the single best therapy for many issues. As a flower child peacenik (think Another Mother for Peace) I was totally against MARTIAL arts - sounded too warrior-like -- but sucked it in and signed him up. Years of awkward spastic moves and then second degree black belt and a confident coordinated kid. Go figure.


I always thought I'd want to name the child what I was planning to call the child -- no need for confusion -- and now that I'm naming baby #3 (probably a third girl, I just KNOW it) I'm probably going to (once again!) eat my pre-parental words. The shorter name just doesn't sound professional enough to me, hands down, so I'd like the fall back. But I also think the full name is beautiful, so that helps.

For me, the distinction is if the nickname is solid on its own without sounding like a Little Boy name. But, even then, I think he will grow into his name just fine. (Speaking to Laura's example above of Thomas vs. Tom Jefferson, I only think Tom sounds odd because it's not what we're used to hearing. We elected Bill Clinton, who, granted, IS a William, but didn't build a career as one.)


We did the "formal just so they'll have one but we really like the nickname better" thing with both out kids. Abigail - Abby and Jacob - Jake. We almost never use the "real" names and definitely like the nicknames better, but I'm still glad we did it that way.

Springsteen fan

Ditto on loving the rambling Amy w/the caps lock. Take it from a girl named Patrick, if you name your son a name that people think is a boy's name, at least 50% of the time, you will be ahead of the game.


If you give the kid the formal name and use a nickname, you have an additional enforcement tool, because when you sternly say, "Formal Name, I need you to listen to me RIGHT NOW," the kid knows you mean business.

The kid's name will forever be assumed to be the formal name and said kid will forever be explaining, "No, it's just Nickname."

Also, what is Jason doing telling his mother? Gah, gah, gah.


Name him the name you intend on calling me. I've gone by a nickname my whole life, and let me tell you, it was a pain every year at the start of school.

Amy in StL

My parents named me Amy - my mom hated Amanda (specifically she hated the name Mandy) but my dad loved it so they compromised. I seriously have always wished I had a more formal name. I hate having a nickname as my real name. I'm not kidding, I've always hated this and always, always since I can remember wished that my parents had just named me Amanda and always called me Amy. (This was exacerbated in highschool when the girls decided to call me Amelia since I didn't have a full name.)


For the record, no one has guessed the name/nickname combo. Not that I would tell you if you DID, but. You know. STILL.

I wish I could get Jason to read y'all's comments, because the only reason the full name is even on the table at ALL is because of me, making the argument about professional options (even though the nickname isn't particularly child-like or anything, it's just SHORT).

But the name thing is always the thing I obsess on, while Jason prefers to come up with the final decision at the hospital. Ezra didn't have a middle name until the day we checked out, and it drove me INSANE. Husbands!


Just a little bit of advice from someone who's been there. I have always gone by my middle name (my mom's choice). It made life very irritating as a child growing up always having to correct teachers, doctors, etc. who called me by my first name before they knew my preference. It's still annoying today as an adult. Make your son's first name what you will call him everyday - regardless of it being an abbreviated name or nick-name to most. He'll thank you for it later!

Jenn H

All three of my kids have long, professional-sounding names for when they are grown-ups with real responsibilities, but for now, we call them by their short, fun, easy-to-spell-and-write nicknames. And I like it that way.

We did have to teach our daughter what her "real" name was before she started Kindergarten, though... you know, just so she knew the teacher was talking to her. ;)
But she quickly informed her teacher that she would like to go by her nickname.

E @ Oh! Apostrophe

We just had the same debate about nickname vs full name with our first (due in March). In the end we decided to name him what we're going to call him, which is really a name in its own right anyways. A comment that someone made that really helped me out was this- as women we like lots of options, "oooh he could Ned this as a teenager, then Edward when he gets into Harvard, then E. Middle Name when he is a famous professor" blah blah blah. Men like straightforward. Men like "I'm Ned." So we went with the short version and I've convinced myself it's the way to go. :)


I named my spawn Lily, and approximately seventy-four-gazillion people asked me if it was short for Lillian. I DETEST the name Lillian (sorry, readers of Amy named Lillian). So no, she's just Lily. Two hours after taking her home, my grandmother had christened her "Lilikoi," and my carefully chosen name has been usurped by Koi. Like the fish. Good thing that kid is cute.

I say name the kid the short name. My story doesn't really demonstrate that at all, but that's my opinion. Cheers!


If you go with the long name, just remember that you can't complain when he grows up and decides he likes the "real" name better. :) After 20 years as "Suzy" I reverted to my real (and more grown-up sounding) name "Stephanie." Despite going by Stephanie for the 20 years since, my family stubbornly clings to Suzy, and when I'm in a mixed group of "old" and "new" friends, it's utter confusion.


Baby boy #2 is due in a few weeks and will named Samuel but called Sam. Baby boy #1 is two years old and is named and called Finn- not short for Finnegan or Phinneas or anything else. No rhyme or reason to either, just what we decided.

Going by a nickname of your formal name is better than going by your middle name in my humble opinion. My dad goes by a nickname of his middle name and people are confused by it all the time. All of his four children go by our given first names. No nicknames.


I miss pregnancy-prescribed milkshakes. My goal with breast feeding was to get so small that I would be prescribed them again. Not happening.
We named our son Joseph & call him Joe, except when we are mock-chastising him. (he's 7 months, what could we actually chastise him for?). The extended family calls him by his formal name, and throw the middle in for fun because that is just how they do.
BUT I have a friend who named her son Ty, and gets totally indignant when people ask if it is short for Tyler. She has a thing about people being called what they are named. Me? I like a name that can go casual or professional.
Also, I'm just throwing more names onto the page so that you can say that someone guessed it...


We totally went through that with our boy's name. My husband's dad always went by Ted, even though that wasn't his actual name or even a nickname for his actual name (I know. weird. it's a Southern thang) and so we wanted to name our boy Ted in memory of him, but I did NOT like Theodore and well, Edward, is a nice name and all, but it (and Jacob for that matter) is officially off limits until Twighlight fades into distant memory. But I didn't want to just name him Ted... so we decided to add "son" to the end a la the old english naming convetion "son of". Our boy is ... Tedson. We love it, and everyone who hears it says nice things, and no one else will have that name..*
*unless someone Steals it!


My son is Alex. Just Alex. Not Alexander, because I knew he'd never go by Alexander. I got the idea from a girl I used to work with (her son was Alex Benjamin, and mine is Alex Daniel.)


Enjoy your chocolate!

And are you still writing for "The Stir?" I liked your column there.


Thinking the name is LIAM and the formal version is William. I found out my baby's sex in 2 1/2 weeks. The first names we've picked out are fun and the middle ones are professional, so they can go by Initial. Fancy Name. Last Name if they want.


Thomas Jefferson was a quick example. If Bill Clinton was just a Bill and not formally a William, I would think his parents were a bit funny. With a nickname like Bill, people would assume a guy was named William, anyways.


My parents debated this one long and hard with my younger brother. My father wanted to name him Alexander and have him go by the full name; my mother wanted to name him Daniel and use the diminutive "Danny." He ended up named Alexander Daniel and called "Danny" - but when he was nine, he decided that it was no longer satisfactory to him, and ever since, has used "Alex." He is not, however, the sort of young man who would make use of any sort of professionalism.

Speaking for myself, my parents gave me a formal name and used a diminutive for my entire life. I hated the diminutive (all my life!) and, not being as brave as my brother, didn't switch to the formal until high school. Now it is all I use - and I very often need to look as professional as possible in my work (which would not be an option if I had been named with the diminutive).

I guess this is a two-way warning: a) if you give your child the formal name, he may decide to use it one day, and b) please, for his sake, give him the formal name so that he CAN use it if he wants!


Congratulations! A mom of three boys is in a special club. Welcome.
I have three kids from my first marriage and my ex insisted that our second son be named after his father whose legal name was Henry but only went by Hank. I wanted to put Henry on our son's birth certificate but he threatened me with bodily harm if the birth certificate said anything other than Hank. Needless to say, Hank's legal name is Hank. He's 16 now and he loves his name! Even if his legal name was Henry, I doubt he would use it, even professionally.


My husband and I are starting to contemplate kids in the nearish future. A few months ago at dinner our friends went ON and ON about a certain (well established) nickname for a boys name that we like. As in: we know, 100%, if we have a boy, we will name him X and call him by the well established nick name. When we (finally) piped up, things to awkward, fast.

(Also,why do people have to so....ardent in their opinion? I think a polite "oh that is nice!" covers all bases because really now, even if you hate it, do you think the couple cares? NO.)


I wonder if your prospective name is my son's name. We went with the "nickname" which is what we want to call him. As a Beth who is more and more frequently called by my full name, this is important to me. My parents named me Elizabeth, never intending to call me anything but Beth. But everywhere "official" (school, doctor, DMV, on professional licensing) I am Elizabeth. No matter how often you correct people, not everyone remembers. Boo to that.

The Lungos

Ah, the name game. We went through it with both kids. We decided not to share either name until they were born to make sure it fit. To put off people asking what the name was and to give us something to call the babes we created "horrible, hysterical fake names". It was awesome because Hubby's fam thought we were serious with those names:

And as far as formal v nickname, we named both kids after grandparents so their names are old and different and formal. Peanut goes by her shortened name (when she is not called Peanut) of Marly Jo (no e, short for Marleah) and Harlan is Harlan. I refuse to shorten his name because then I have a Marly and a Harley and that is stupid. My parents call him Harley just to spite me, I know it.


I'm all for naming a kid what you actually intend to call him. It simplifies things. That was one of my rules when we named our kids, the other one being *spell it like a normal person*!


I don't like nicknames as names, even when I like the nickname. It bugs me, but I suppose it's none of my business.


My vote is to name him what you intend to call him. I am a Margaret *which I hate* but have always been called Maggie and it is a serious pain in the ass to have to correct people all the time. I used to dread that first day of school where they would call out your formal name and you would have to speak up and tell them your nickname. It was so nerve wracking. That's my two cents :)


Skip the formal if you don't intend on using it! Nothing more irritating than people have been called ... say 'steve' their whole life but then the new girlfriend/wife decides she likes 'steven' better...argh...I have about 3 friends where this is the case. annoying.

I have a Will. Just a Will - no William.


Hee. My mom wanted to name me Kristina MiddleName and a few months before I was born my aunt adopted a baby girl and named her Kristina Middlename. So I am now Katrina Middlename who has always gone by Katie. Except for when I was in trouble with mom--then I was KATRINA MIDDLENAME LASTNAME.

I like having a more formal name. I love my nickname. I go by Katie--even at work, because I work with children, and Miss Katie is easier--but if I ever wanted to seem more professional I would use Katrina.

So. Yeah. I dunno. I love Noah, and I love Ezra (there was a momentary hesitation there when you announced it because I'd never heard it before but now it is just so HIM that I can't believe I didn't immediately think it perfect) and I'm sure the name that you choose for Baby #3 will be PERFECT, formal or no.

cindy w

Daughter #1 is named Catherine. We call her Catie. We happened to think both were pretty. If she wants to be Cate or Catherine someday because it sounds more "grown-up," so be it. She has options.

Daughter #2 that I'm currently gestating? Uh... I might be naming her a nickname, because I'm not totally in love with the full name. Even though it was my grandmother's name. I keep going back & forth on that one.

Oh, but when I told my mom the name I was thinking about for baby 2.0? She hated it, because it sounded "old-fashioned." Well, yeah, that would be the whole grandmother connection thing. But thanks for the input, Mom! Yeesh.


I also vote going with the longer, formal name. Then again, I'm a corporate attorney so I'm biased to a culture of extreme formality in the workplace, but I think it gives him more options. Let him choose to be Nate or Nathan when he gets older instead of Nathaniel, etc. Even if you name him the "nickname" there's no guarantee that he won't be nicknamed something else that sticks later in life.

Our second son's name is Montgomery. We never use it, but I didn't want him to have to use Monty (what we call him) as an adult if he didn't want to. I guess he could always go by "Bobo" which his older brother calls him...


Our youngest has a formal first name, but always goes by his nickname. Luckily we like the formal name almost just as well, but I was determined that DH be okay with the nickname, because I loved it.

If we have another boy (finding out in ten days, OMG), we will be naming him John after my brother, but calling him Jack. For our own reasons.


I was named Margaret but was always called Maggie. I legally changed it to Maggie at the age of 23 when I got married. We avoided the name Nick because I didn't like Nicholas. We went with Anthony even though my husband didn't like Tony. That worked until our son was about 11. Now only our families ever use Anthony.


I am another adult who has a long, professional given name but a nickname my parents intended to use right out of the gate. I now use the nickname personally and the given name professionally, and I love it that way. It helps differentiate mail, phone calls, networking ... it's great.

BTW, my guess is Zeke and Ezekiel.


Oh, and I hate it when grandmas hate the names. I mean, unless you're naming him Inspektor Pilot or something, or Hitler, can't they just smile? My mother in law has only had one opinion, and that was about a prospective middle name for a girl, which we've never used anyway. She pointed out that the middle name was one syllable and didn't sound right with our last name. She was right, darn it.

My mother, on the other hand, literally MADE FUN of the name we'd chosen for our firstborn, and told us flat out that she was going to call him "Nicky" (his middle name is Nicholas). I told her, just as flatly, that she was NOT going to call him that unless he got old enough to have an opinion and asked to be called "Nicky", a name I detest.

Sara M

I don't think it matters what you want him to be called, other people always come up with their own nicknames. My husband's family calls my first son CP, the initials of his first and middle names. They call my second son Tom, all three of his initials (I kind of like this one!, but no where near his first name). You have picked out great names for the first two, so this one will be just as good no matter what.

Also, the link to the Stir is gone. Are you done writing there?


For me, I think it depends on the name and nickname. For example, I have no problem with Jack or Max or Kate, which are technically nicknames. But I prefer Alexander to Alex, or Charles to Charlie, David to Dave. I think Drew is fine as a first name, but not Andy. So, basically, I am no help whatsoever.

My friend has siblings whose actual names are Dan, Alex and Kris. That always seemed a little weird to me. (Kris is a girl.)


Another vote for giving the baby a formal name with an nickname option. We purposely picked formal names that we really liked with nicknames that we loved. My kids are 4 and 2 and they know both of their names and respond to both without a problem.

There was a little confusion at pre-K this year with my son's name, but given that his nickname is common enough, it wasn't an issue after the first week.

Good luck!


Cause I'm all pretentious and Tiger Mom-Like, I vote formal name because it sounds better with things like Dr. or Judge after it.

We call our Elanor "Ellie" and occasionally "Ella" but never "Nora" which was the nickname I luuuuuurved when she was in utero.


I vote for the name you want to call him. Not that you asked, but if you give him the formal name he will one day tell you, "Stop calling me Tommy! My name is Thomas."


Sorry...before it.


We have a John called Jack. For his birth announcements we went with one that had Jack in big letters on it, and then in the details section had his formal name. Sort of along these lines:
School forms haven't been too much of a problem. They get it pretty quickly that he's Jack.

Gram of 4

I'm firmly in the camp of "Name the Child what you want to call him."
My husband has an unusual name and his parents NEVER ONCE used it. They called him a Nickname from Day 1. It has caused INCREDIBLE hassles in school, legally- how Many Times do we have to do documents over?- and on every dang form.

I gave my Children the names we were going to call them.... and not necessarily names that COULD be shortened. Like your Noah.... what do you shorten that to?

My children always told us the sex of the grandchild and not the names until they appeared. We have some different names, but we didn't care. Just give us the babies. Nom Nom.


i totally get the real name/nickname conundrum. my name is Elizabeth but I go by Liz. I hated it when i was younger because i was Liz or Lizzie at home, but Beth to friends and often Elizabeth at school. I was never assertive enough to make one name stick in all settings. now that I'm older I love the name Elizabeth and even used it as my daughter's middle name.

I purposely gave my kids names that don't have nicknames - daughter is Avery, son is Crosby - yet we still call them Ave and Cros. go figure.


p.s. my guess for your name is Heathcliff, or Heath for short


Oh! And just to complicate our particular situation more, riddle me this: So while the name we like IS technically a nickname, it's unusual enough that I actually didn't know what it was a nickname FOR until I looked it up. And there are actually about three formal name options, only one of which I would ever seriously consider. So it's not like going with Tom/Bill instead of Thomas/William, because I don't think people hear the name and immediately assume it's short for a specific, well-established name. Though I imagine people might assume it's short for SOMETHING.

If that makes any sense.

Probably not.

Never mind.

Carry on!


Also, PS: My dad is called a name that has nothing to do with either his first or middle given names. It's confusing. Don't do that.


Take it from a college professor who learns 200+ names a year: there is no sweet spot between the unpronounceable and the overly common, no way to fully insulate your child from dumb mistakes or dumb questions, and no hope of giving him a name he will love every minute of his life, forever.

That said, I like the idea of a more formal name with a kid's nickname available, but my brother (Gordon Randolph, called G.R. until high school) can attest that the kiddie version will have staying power. The immediate family still calls him G.R. and probably will forever. He accepts it with good grace, though.

More data points: My dad (also Gordon Randolph) was always called Gordon at work and Randy at home: a handy distinction, I think. My mom is Peggy on her birth certificate and once (pre-1950) had to have her mother come to school with her to tell the teacher her name was NOT Margaret. When I tell that story now, a lot of people don't even realize that Peggy is short for Margaret: nicknames sometimes decouple from their originals.

I have no conclusions except that I understand why parents keep their name choices a secret until the baby is born.

Jen O.

My dad's legal name is Danny. Not Daniel, not Dan. Danny. Same with his brother Johnny. Not Jonathon or John. Plus my mom? NO MIDDLE NAME. First name, last name, nothing in between.

Basically, what I'm saying is rules? THERE ARE NO RULES.

Crabby Apple Seed

we have a few nicknames on our list too, for which we hate the full names. I'm not sure what we'll do, if we'll go with the nickname or another name entirely, but I can't see giving a kid a name I don't like.

as for the weight issue, as the woman who's gaining twice the weight as the last pregnancy and growing a baby half the size...noooo sympathy.


Mmm, now I want Chipotle.


I'm obsessed with baby names right now and hate that you're teasing us with the name you guys like and your mother-in-law hates. I have a good feeling that my parents and the husband's parents will all hate the names we pick and, like your husband, it will only make me want to come up with even more unique names just to spite them. You know, because I'm a responsible adult who should have kids.


My friends did Obadiah and call him Obi. Obi is so cute, but I can see where Obadiah might feel clunky later in life and Obi might feel too Star Wars. That said, it's kind of a great name anyway.


I was thinking Liam too, but mostly just because that's my oldest son's name. I would never have named him William. People would've called him Bill or Will or Ted or anything other than Liam. My second son, on the other hand, is named Quinlan but we only ever intended to call him Quin. In this case, I just felt like 'Quin' wasn't enough of a name, if that makes sense. (It doesn't, but that's okay.) I have to say though, I do really like the option of calling him by his full name when he's in trouble! Haha. I say just go with your gut on this one.


Congratulations on finding out about the new babeh boy. This comment is out of left field but ever since you commented about cheese steaks and gravy fries during the Golden Globes I've been thinking that you should do a post somewhere about your favorite places to eat in Montgomery County and environs. Junk food included.


Congratulations on your newest boy! I have two and if I ever fetch up pregnant again (doubtful) I'd be thrilled to get a third.


I thought you said on one of your other blogs that the main name on the table was Jude. So I've been guessing that all this time, but I can't think of what Jude would be short for unless it's Julian like the Beatles song.

I don't have a dog in the long name/nickname fight, but I agree that short names are better/easier on kids than going by middle names. And as a teacher, the nickname of a longer name is easier than the middle name, which may or may not be on the roster I am given. I know that's not the issue here, but I just like voicing my opinion.


My husband and I both really liked the name Jack, but didn't like John (which Jack is technically a nickname for). So we named him Jackson, which is a nice, distinguished, professional-sounding name. He then has a Dutch surname as his middle name and our last name is a 10-letter Dutch name as well, so the poor kid needed something short, you know?

When he was born, as soon as my dad saw him he said, "He is such a Jack." He was right.

So . . . is that the name?


Ooh! Is it Zeke with Ezekiel being the longer, more formal name? That's my nephews's name and it's totally perfect for him. Congratulations on boy #3. The little girls in the DC area better LOOK OUT when your boys are older!


Well, I guess it could be short for Judah or Judea, going with your other Biblical names. Obviously I didn't think about those at first. And I do like how Jude goes with your other Biblical names.


I gave my sons "weird" nicknames, but backed them up with extremely normal names.

Grey is really Gregory. Thane is Nathaniel on his birth certificate. they can pick the "normal" nickname if they want (Greg, Nate), they can use their full formal name, or they can stick with the name their Mom calls them.


Congratulations on the boy!

I have two myself, and with both pregnancies, I think I hit my full-term weight goal about five minutes after becoming pregnant.

Heather Ben

name the kids what you will actually call them. we recently switched back to our 4 month old's true first name (which we like equally well) because it was too confusing to keep saying - her name is ABC, but we are calling her B, instead of A.

but i know what you mean about liking a nickname but not the full-version. For instance, I love the name Beck. weird, i know but it is true. I really consider it a boy's name and we were having a girl, so I considered naming her Rebecca. But I don't really love that one so it ended up getting cut. If i have a boy though i will just name his straight out Beck.


If it's not Jude, now I'm thinking the name you want to call him is Eli and full names or Elijah and Elias? And some other third one I'm not thinking of? I can never figure out how to pronounce Elias (ELL-ee-as? eh-LI-as? ee-LI-as?) but I love Eli. And Jude. Although he might hate it when people sing that song to him all the time (but maybe by the time he's older, not as many kids will get the reference? Sad.).

And congrats on the boy-o!

You know who

Keep the formal name and call him by the other name. Easy.

Also the other name is probably cooler than the formal name also with the formal name it's easier to find a middle name.

I like both names.

And if you changed your mind then fuck it. Also you still owe me wine. I perfer a nice red.


Nope, not Jude/Judah, Zeke/Ezekiel or Eli/Elijah. Like I said in an earlier comment, the nickname isn't really super-obviously tied to the formal time. It's kind an oddball situation, created solely BY ME because I couldn't come up with a good middle name for the short name and realized that hey! There's a formal name option too! NOW WHAT GAH.

Though I think I need to back away and STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS or I will give too much away and somebody WILL guess the name and I'll be like, "Shit! Forget I said anything! Quick, look over there! Ponies!"


Ooh! People's guesses are awesome. Jude? Liam? Eli? None of them is ever anything I'd have thought of, and yet they all sound perfect when lined up with Noah and Ezra. Gosh!

The boys' name I've run into that has this sort of dilemma (and it may be very uncommon around your area, only my family has Welsh roots) is Rory. Personally, I think it's a brilliant name on its own, but I know a Rory who is very glad he has the full name for work purposes (his is Roderick, but I've also seen Riordan shortened that way, as well as other names starting with "Ro-").


Three boys under 5 here. Wanted to call our middle boy Finn and didn't really love any of the more formal names, but finally went with Finnegan because it sounded better with the middle name. (I still kind of roll my eyes when people call him Finnegan though)

Alberta grandma

Whatever you decide just remember some day he has to be a man,- don't go "cutsie" so he has to change it when he is head-of-something-important and doesn't want to cause snikkers when he says his name. Sorry MIL grandmas don't get to choose although they do have a right to an opinion!


My friend named her son Will (not william). They were worried people would try and call him willie or whatever, but it has been a non-issue! He's just "Will". Short and sweet. I'd say just name your kid what you want, no formal spelling is needed!


My Indian SIL and BIL named their sons Nathan and Nate.

Hand to Shiva, I swear it to be true.

For the life of him, poor Manoj did not understand why I burst out laughing hysterically when he told me what they had named the 2nd boy after he was born. It was not until I told him that it would have been like naming our 2nd kid Arundathi, did he get it.


What I want to say: Come on! Jason told his mom! It's only fair that you get to tell the Internet!
What I will actually say: We told people what we were going to name our son a few weeks before he was born. They FREAKED OUT. (I think I've probably mentioned this on here or the smackdown before because I'm whiny and redundant but most importantly BITTER.) We ended up changing his name because of it and I've always regretted it. My assvice is to pick the dang name you want and for cripesakes don't tell anyone until that handsome little man is here to charm the pants off any naysayers.

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