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Friday, August 15, 2008

Baby Girl Foster

Carmen writes:
Hi Swistle,

I am due in September with our second child, a girl, and my husband and I are having great difficulty choosing a name this time around. We don't have any family name traditions, and have only a few restrictions:

a) I don't want names that people automatically shorten into cutesy nicknames (e.g. Timmy, Tommy, etc.) because then the poor child has to convince the world to call him something else when he becomes an adult. (The same would hold true for a daughter - I just can't think of an example at this moment.) I know that the parents should be able to avoid this with a bit of work, but I know my parents. And his parents. It's just easier to avoid the situation all together.

b) And of course, the initials also shouldn't spell anything crazy. This seems like a fairly standard restriction though.

c) We'd like a name that is not really in the top 20 or so of current names - in order to avoid the situation of 3 kids in one class with the same name.

d) I'm not a huge fan of the current trend of crazy spellings of normal names.

The name we chose for our son was Kieran James. No nicknames, fairly uncommon, not crazy initials. Girls names are harder as there aren't any so far that I really really love. I sort of like Jemma, but my husband does not. And Alexa, although I'm not sure if the 'x' makes the name sound a bit 'hard'.

How about Calla? Or Lyra? And predictably, I have no thoughts on middle names...

I guess the other complicating factor is that our last name is Foster. That makes names that end in 'er' impossible as they just sound ridiculous: Spencer Foster. See? Too funny.

So. Can you help me, O Wise and Wonderful Swistle?

As you know, I love the book The Baby Name Wizard with all my baby-naming heart, and so I do love when it slips onto a problem like a well-worn glove. In this case, not only does the book have entries for both Calla and Lyra, but it puts both names in the same two categories: the "Little Darlings" category (short-and-sweet names) and the "Why Not?" category (for names that are not being used much despite having so much going for them). Let's find some more choices from those two categories:

Little Darlings
Ada (Ada Foster; Kieran and Ada)
Britta (Britta Foster; Kieran and Britta)
Eva (Eva Foster; Kieran and Eva)
Lila (Lila Foster; Kieran and Lila)

Why Not?
Elsa (Elsa Foster; Kieran and Elsa)
Geneva (Geneva Foster; Kieran and Geneva)
Jill (Jill Foster; Kieran and Jill)
Joy (Joy Foster; Kieran and Joy)

(It's Eve that's in the Little Darlings list, not Eva, but I think Eva has a better rhythm and fewer Adam jokes.)

The name Kieran has a strong K sound and a strong vowel sound and a strong N sound, and I found a lot of names got tangled with it when I tried to pair them as siblings. Try for example Caris, a name from the Why Not category that I think is great with your surname: Caris Foster. But now put it with Kieran: Kieran and Caris. Or try Kieran and Ellen. Kieran and Kara. Kieran and Kira.

I can't tell if the name Calla is like that or not. Is "Kieran and Calla" lovely and coordinated, or is it tangley? I like the name Calla a lot, and it's terrific with your surname, so we'll include it in the list and let everyone vote on it with the others. Let's also include Lyra--which may or may not have a vowel tangle with Kieran, I can't tell for sure.

Calla (Calla Foster; Kieran and Calla)
Lyra (Lyra Foster; Kieran and Lyra)

That gives us a nice long list. Let's put a poll over to the right and vote on it! What should Kieran Foster's sister be named?

[Poll results (207 votes total):

Ada: 21 votes, roughly 10%
Britta: 16 votes, roughly 8%
Eva: 17 votes, roughly 8%
Lila: 35 votes, roughly 17%
Elsa: 12 votes, roughly 6%
Geneva: 14 votes, roughly 7%
Jill: 15 votes, roughly 7%
Joy: 10 votes, roughly 5%
Calla: 46 votes, roughly 22%
Lyra: 21 votes, roughly 10%]

[Name update 10-10-2008! Carmen writes:
Thank you so much to you and your readers for your advice and suggestions; it certainly gave us more options to talk about. At least as much as I could convince my husband that we needed to STILL TALK about names! I had our little baby girl on Sept 29th and we named her Alexa Lenore. I agreed with your readers and really wanted Calla, but in the end my husband didn't like it as much. Lyra was also nice, although we realized later that we were pronouncing it incorrectly (like Leer-ra, rather than Lie-ra) and only really liked it that way; we didn't want her to spend her life having to tell people how to pronounce her name. So. Alexa it is. Her middle name is the same as mine, as her brother's name is the same as my husband's.

Thank you for posting my question. I'm sorry that we didn't get to use your suggestions in the end, but we're happy with Alexa and it suits her. Although you may have noticed that by using it, we didn't follow our own rules. There IS a cute nickname (Lexi) but neither of us hate it, so we overlooked that fact. Also, her initials are ALF. Presumably by the time she's in school no one will remember that stupid sitcom, right?]


f8hful_lo said...

I voted for Lyra. I really liked Calla but when I said Calla Foster it sounded to close to California. Also, we didn't get to vote for a middle name, so I thought I would suggest a couple from the other names suggested:
Lyra Eve Foster
Lyra Joy Foster
Lyra Noelle Foster
Good luck!

Kristen said...

At the risk of exposing my and my husbands all time favorite girl name and thus making it popular....but what about Tessa??
Tessa Foster? Kieran and Tessa?? I LOVE IT!

Anonymous said...

I love the name Calla, and I have never heard it before! Yay!


DirtyHippy said...

I voted for Joy. Familiar yet uncommon and it just makes me smile to hear it.

The one I would warn against is Lila. I'm hearing that name all over the place. I think it's about to have a huge jump in popularity and, since you said that's a concern, I would be wary.

I'll also through in my favorite short, feminine name---Nina. Nina Foster sounds very chic and sophisticated to my ears.

Good luck!

Bethtastic said...

I love Calla. And I would put it with Joy. Kieran and Calla. Nice. And each sharing a middle initial J. Also nice.

Kieran James and Calla Joy. Perfect.

Pocket said...

I don't particularly care for names like Joy or Jill, but in this case I love them with your last name! I don't like the other names that end in a vowel: Calla Foster sounds like Cal Afoster. I think Foster is a strong last name, so a strong first name like Joy goes well. Joy Foster. That sounds classy!!

Saskia said...

I love Lyra -- It's the name of the wonderful protagonist in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy (The Golden Compass, etc.).

Beth said...

Lurker here. I love this blog and enjoy reading everyone's opinions.

Personally, I like Eve Foster. That would be my vote. I agree that some of the names ending with "a" don't sound right. Not that you can't use a name ending in "a," I just think that all of the ones on this list are shorter and, when coupled with a strong name like Foster, lend themselves to making first and last names one whole word.

On a side note, Britta Foster sounds like the water filter... Britta faucet.

Bebe said...

I really like the name Calla. It is sweet, not over-used, and yet familiar in a way. I think it goes well with your last name and with your son's name.

Other names I think might fit your criteria are...
Brenna (Kieran and Brenna)
Leah (Kieran and Leah)
Audrey (Kieran and Audrey)

My second favorite from Swistle's list was Ada, followed by Lila.

youcantcallitit said...

Defiinitely agree with the analysis that hard initial K-sounds, N endings, and too much R (beginning or middle) are ideally to be avoided.

I voted for Lila, and like Ada, Elsa, and Calla as well. They are all light and pretty but have a quiet underlying strength. Britta Foster sounds like britta filter. Though I like Eva, myriad Avas would make me shy away from it. That leaves Geneva, Joy, and Jill, of which the latter two seem a bit dated to the 70s? They are sprightly and youthful, and you'd be ahead of the curve, but I think there are better names out there. Geneva has a very pretty sound, and it's one of my favorites as far as place names go. That said, I generally prefer more traditional given names.

A few more ideas:



Mayberry said...

Lyra seems pretty, but leaves me wondering if it's LIE-ra or LEE-ra?

I also love Ada, but think a lot of people would mishear as the overused Ava.

Kimberly said...

Great options Elizabeth! I like Alice, Isla, and Stella with Kieran. Cute!

Hillary said...

Voted for Lila, partly because I associate it with this great woman I used to work with. She was feisty and smart and pretty.

fairydogmother said...

My favorites are Calla and Alexa. I have the same "trouble" with Calla that Swistle does - I can't tell if it is too tangley and tongue twister-y when paired with Kieran, despite how much I adore it on its own. Also, Carmen asked if the 'x' in Alexa made the name sound a bit 'hard'. I have a niece named Alexa, and when the name first came into consideration for her I had the same question about it, but using the name it has an entirely different feel than when floating names around in theory. (Pardon my rambling, I hope that makes sense. It is early, and I am not yet caffeinated).

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I couldn't decide what to vote for, so I read through the comments first, I want to second kristen's suggestion of Tessa. I really like it with your son's name and your last name.

Nicole said...

I voted Lyra Foster.

But I also thought these were great suggestions.


Anonymous said...

Geneva! Wish I could use it, beautiful name! Also, what about Lucy? No nickname, goes well with sibling, and fits last name. Lucy Joy Foster, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

oh....I like Nina that was suggested above. That sounds great. Classic name that is cute for a kid and sophisticated for an adult.

I also really like Ada, but you might deal with the 'I ate a' comments.

Frazzled Mom said...

I really do like Calla. It has a nice rhythmic two syllable pattern that makes it fit in with the popular names (Ava, Emma, Ella, etc.), but you don’t hear it everyday. Despite being somewhat uncommon, Calla is still a name most people would be comfortable with, and I doubt you would get a lot of strange looks or comments (if that matters to you). I do know of a local TV reporter where I live named Kala who appears to be of Indian heritage. That’s the only time I have heard of the name.

I too thought “Britta facet” when I saw Britta Foster, which is sad because Britta is a really cute name. And, if you want to avoid anything too popular, I would avoid any name even remotely close to Ava, including Ada and Eva.