Story of my Name

OK, so here’s the little game I talked about yesterday (sorry, Sharon, no prizes)…

I worked for a non-profit called CHARACTERplus from 2002-2007. Most of that time was spent working on a federal grant for the Caring School Community project, which is a program that helps elementary teachers/schools make their classrooms feel more like a community.  I’ll spare you the rest of the details for now, but if you’re an elementary school teacher and are interested in more information, post a comment and I’ll contact you.

When I worked for the CSC grant, the first activity we’d always introduce teachers to was “The Story of my Name.” This was a getting-to-know-you activity for the kids, but we also did it with teachers at their training for the program. Basically, you just need to tell the story of why you were given the name you were. Most kids have absolutely no idea, and surprisingly, many adults don’t either. I had to ask my parents about mine when I started doing this training!

No offense, Mom and Dad, but mine isn’t very exciting. My name (Nicole Elizabeth) was just something that they liked.  I believe that Matthew was just a name his parents liked, and Lee was his grandfather’s name.  But we heard some fun stories in the years of doing this program, from the being named for people from the Bible, family members, or TV characters to finding out that one woman at a training was named for her father’s ex-girlfriend…I’m not kidding.

So I thought it would be fun to hear the story of YOUR names, or, if you want, the story of your kids’ names. Here are ours:

Lucas Jacob: I wanted to name him Bennett, and Matt was completely opposed. As was much of our family (duh.  lesson #1 in baby naming: don’t tell anyone! I remember Zach saying he thought Bennett was a kid you’d sit down to tea and crumpets with – we still love you, Zach). Then, he was supposed to be Jackson, until a coworker at the cubicle next to Matt had a baby boy they named Jack 4 months before I was due. We decided we just couldn’t do it. We had talked about Lucas and just finally agreed on the way to Effingham one night. Jacob was what Matt wanted for his first name, but it was entirely too popular and, oh yeah, my brother’s name. So in the end, we did Lucas Jacob, loving that it had both Biblical and family ties. He’s usually only Lucas now if he’s in trouble!

Bennett Lee: Well, I didn’t give up on the name Bennett. I had first heard it when I was working for CHARACTERplus and not one but two of my coworkers had grandsons named Bennett. I just loved it…I loved that it was different, but not so weird that people would ask us to repeat it, and that it met my requirement of being a name that I could shorten. And I liked Ben as a nickname, too. To help me win my battle against Matt, I taught 2-year-old Luke that his new baby’s name was either Bennett or Tyson (a name that comes back later, as you’ll see). Matt finally relented, and we planned on the name Weber for his middle name – see yesterday’s post if this is a mystery to you. When Illinois lost, we didn’t have a middle name for him for sure…we tossed lots of names around in the delivery room, not actually deciding on one before he was born.  The next morning, when Matt started calling people, he left a message for some friends saying that his name was “Bennett Lee.”  I remember being like, “Um, we didn’t decide that for sure yet, but OK.”  Let me just say that I love the name Lee.  I just thought that Bennett Lee sounds a bit like a Confederate Army General, but I was willing to concede since I got the first name I wanted.  And what’s so funny is that our Bennett is the LAST kid you’d picture eating tea and crumpets with, huh Zach?

Jackson Henry: We were at a loss.  We’d already used the names we both liked!  The day we found out it was another boy, I started looking for names because I knew it would be a battle with Matt, who is much more conservative in the baby-naming department than I.  Matt kept pushing for Jack, and I was opposed because, though I really liked it, there are a trillion little Jacks out there right now.  I kept coming up with suggestions that he hated (Tyson topped the list, but all he could think about was chicken, and pointed that out on the interstate one day as we passed a Tyson chicken semi), but we both agreed to consider Henry as a first name.  About 8 weeks before the little guy was born, I wrote out a list of possibilities, with Jackson Henry being one of them.  Matt read through it, and said, “I like Jack Henry.  Like we would call him Jack Henry.”  Jackson wasn’t his favorite, but he agreed so that the name would meet my shortening requirement.

So, there you have it!  The story of our names.  Please share!

21 responses to “Story of my Name

  1. I’m really disappointed that none of your sons were name Richard or Phillip. You know that there have been great kings by these names. (Just kidding I really never liked my names either especially Phillip.)

  2. Yeah… I was definitely going to say that Bennett is for sure the last kid you would sit down for tea & strumpets (name that movie!)

    Now I just have a question as to why dad, although disliking his middle name Phillip, aided in the choice to make that my middle name as well… haha.

  3. Yeah, Phillip wasn’t at the top of our list for middle names…sorry guys.

    Tea & strumpets is, of course, from the classic Dumb & Dumber. I heart Jim Carrey.

  4. So did you have any front runners for a girl name? I will post about our boys’ names–it would be way to long as a comment. I really like the name Bennett. I think that it is a pretty rare name, but very stately.

  5. Girl names. Hmmm. We always just talked in general terms of names we liked and never had to get serious about making a decision! We liked Maggie & Isabelle, Matt liked Sydney and I liked Emerson but that got a big thumbs-down from Matt. We won’t need to choose one of these, though!

  6. My middle name used to be Lee!

  7. I named my daughter Lillie Helene so that it would follow in a line of 4 other family flower namesm the middle name is my grandmother’s name. If we were ever having another girl her name would be Violet. Our son’s name was just something we really liked, just something really strong, Jackson Clay, Clay is a family name on my husband’s side.

  8. I think I remember my parents telling me that they didn’t have a definite girl’s name when they went to the hosp. (Remember, of course, that no one back then knew what they were having.) They were hoping for a boy, and I would have been named “Joel” (no idea why); when I turned out to be a girl, I think it was my mom who said, “Maybe we could just shorten it to Jo,” and Jo it was! I have no idea where Beth, my middle name, came from; guess they just liked it. (All through the years when I was growing up, I hated my name because it was so different – I often had to repeat it when someone asked my name. I was still called Jo Beth most of the time through h.s., but when I went to college, I introduced myself as Jo, just cause it was simpler, and after that, my middle name almost became nonexistent. Here in Effingham, virtually no one calls me Jo Beth, which is ironic because now I like it!)

  9. I’m not sure where the name “Arlene” came from, but all I know is that my Dad named the girls (Dolores & Arlene) and Mom named the boys (Bob, Jim, & Tom)! So you can see the difference in how they viewed names!
    My Dad nick-named me: Suki-Mary-Klotzie-Heimer! No clue where that came from either! But I liked when he called me that!

  10. Love that nickname, Mom! I’ve never heard that before!

  11. Here I am again, this time to report on our kids’ names (in case they don’t know why).

    Matthew Lee: As you said, we just liked the name Matthew & also liked it shortened to Matt. Lee was for my dad. (If he had been a girl, he would have been Sara Beth.)

    Heidi Beth: I still liked Sara, but Ron didn’t like it so much anymore. We both really liked Heather, but my really close cousin had just had a baby they named Heather, so I didn’t want to do that. So one night while watching The Newlywed Game on TV, one of the wives’ names was Heidi, and we both really liked it, so that’s what we stuck with! Beth is my middle name. (Favorite boys’ names were Ryan & Jeffrey.)

    Andrea Nicole: We had a hard time this time! I don’t remember what different girls’ names were on our list, but we just couldn’t agree. (I still liked Sara. And I think we considered variations on Kristin, Kristine, Krista, etc.) I know Andrea was one of my ideas, and it was just one name that we could finally agree on. We picked Nicole cause we thought it sounded pretty w/ Andrea! (I think our boys’ names were still Ryan & Jeff.)

  12. My parents just liked “Hannah”. They were way ahead of their time. . . as it was a rare name for people my age. . . but boy are there a lot of “Hannah’s” now!!! My middle name is “Marie,” which a number of family members have.

    My sister is “Sarah Ann”. . . just because they liked it.

    If my parents would have had a boy, it would have been “Noah”. . . nope, my parents weren’t going for a biblical theme at all. . . just liked the names. 🙂

  13. mom, what about the infamous brooke for ang???

    nicole, interesting to hear girls’ names! i don’t think you ever discussed those with us 🙂 i, unfortunately, think of my emerson stereo that i got when i was in 8th grade when i think of that name…

  14. Funny, I don’t really know anything about why I was named what I was named either. Hmmm.

    As for my kids;
    Savannah Joy… When I got pregnant with our first baby, it was completely unplanned. We had only been married a couple of months, weren’t planning on kids for a couple of years, we weren’t prepared financially, I wasn’t prepared emotionally, and frankly I was rather upset by it. The same night we found out, we had our small group from church. During our prayer time I offered up an “unspoken” request for prayer for us in a surprising situation; that the Lord would take the fear and uncertainty from me and would replace that with a Peace and a Joy that I was so distanced from at the moment. It was an amazing prayer time. On the way home from group that night, my husband looked at me and said, “This baby is going to be our little girl and I think her name will Joy.” We didn’t find out the sex (with either of our pregnancies) but I knew it would be a girl when we later received a stuffed giraffe at a baby shower that was embroidered with the word JOY. We had a short list of names we liked going into the hospital… Kathryn (Katy) was the front runner, Ally, Miah and even Anna were on the list to, but not Savannah. But when we met her, she didn’t seem to fit any of those names and suddenly I thought “Savannah”. So she became Savannah Joy.

    Sawyer was harder. We had a girl’s name picked out, but couldn’t narrow down a boy’s name. Once again we had a middle name but no first. We wanted Isaac, which means a gift of laughter, to kind of go along with Joy. We were torn between Sawyer, Seth and Jase and didn’t decide on a name until he was 12 hours old. Sawyer it was. And now I can’t imagine him as anything else of course. And from day one he was a complete incarnation of his name “laughter”. One of the happiest giggliest babies I’ve ever met.

    Sorry for the long explanation, but I love baby names!! Good idea!

  15. I was named after my dad’s first girlfriend “Libby Laney”… I guess my mom was a good sport having already gotten her man and she liked the old girlfriend well enough… Elizabeth sounds different than Libby don’t ya think?

  16. Oh yeah, Heidi, I forgot about “Brooke”! I really, really liked that name, but Ron didn’t and wouldn’t seriously consider it. Another name I liked (I think for both you & Andrea) was Shelley or Chelle, but it just reminded Ron of Shelley Winters, the old, overweight actress!

    I love this blog, Nicole!

  17. My name was just one my parents liked…..they said they were going through the baby book of names one night and came across Sonya and liked it. So, there you go!

    We named our son, Andrew Kenneth, after Kirk (Andrew is his middle name) and my dad (Kenneth is his first name). Kayla’s name we just came across in the baby book and liked it. Her middle name, Renee, is my middle name! Fun idea Nicole!

  18. What a great post – thanks, Nicole! Zoe Marguerite: We had no idea what we were having so we had to think of names for either gender. I left the boy name up to Rich since he is the III. It was on his shoulder’s to break that tradition (and he didn’t like any of my suggestions anyway). As for the girl, we had several names that we liked. I knew that I wanted Marguerite as a middle name, though. That was my maternal grandmother’s middle name, but she actually went by it, and I really liked it. I never knew her because she died of breast cancer before I was born. We had a bit of a hard time getting pregnant and when we finally did, my due date was Oct. 23. The first thing my mom said, when I told her we were expecting was “my mom’s birthday was Oct. 24”. So throughout my pregnancy I was convinced that I was having a girl and having her on the 24th…and that’s exactly what happened! The first name was a bit more difficult. I always wanted the name Madeline Marguerite – doesn’t it just flow off your tongue? Well, my sister-in-law (that we don’t speak to) named her daughter Madeline almost exactly one year before we had our daughter, so that name was out. Plus, it was getting too trendy anyway. So we started fresh…well, sort of. We have a yellow lab, Maggie. When we were in puppy training class, there was a black lab named Zoe and we loved the name! Fast forward to a couple of years later when we started looking for a black lab puppy whose name would be Zoe. Well, I got pregnant before we found the right puppy and once we knew a baby was coming we didn’t want to take on a pup too, but the name stuck. We had it down to Isabelle and Zoe, and Rich left the final decision up to me, but I wanted to wait until I saw her (well, first I had to find out if it was a boy or a girl). As soon as I saw her, I knew that she was a Zoe. It means “life” in Greek and I can’t think of a name that would describe her any better! But I still feel bad that we, in a way, named her after a dog.

  19. You guys, these stories are great! Keep them coming!

  20. I was named after a soap opera actress (Amanda ???). I don’t know any more than that.

    Allison Amanda – Allison was a name both Larry and I agreed upon early on in my pregnancy. And, I wanted to use a family name for her middle name and quite frankly….I liked my name better than those of Allison’s grandmothers (Penny and Doris). No offense to them…just not names I wanted to pass along. Larry suggested we use Doris and call her Dora. Um….no….the t.v. show was way too popular at that time.

    If she would have been a boy she probably would have been named Mitchell. Although Larry really liked Dylan Robert. Get it??? Bob Dylan. Yea…he’s a big fan. And, Robert was Grandpa Wiedman’s name so that was cool.

    Joshua Lawrence – Another great name we agreed on. Maybe it was Rachel (from Friends) who had a boyfriend named Joshua. Remember that? We both liked the name Jeffrey for a middle name since we both have brothers named Jeffrey, but Larry ruined that one day. He commented that his nickname could be “JJ” and then he said “Dynomite”. Remember JJ from Good Times saying that? From then on Jeffrey was no longer in the running for a middle name. I decided Lawrence was appropriate since Allison had my name.

    If Josh would have been a girl (we didn’t find out the gender with either pregnancy) we had Anna Catherine picked out. Anna is my Gma Luchtefeld’s middle name. Catherine is my Gma Wiedman’s middle name and also Larry’s Gma Jansen’s middle name. I loved the name and thought it would have been cool to include 3 Grandmothers. I still love the name, but don’t intend to use it so feel free…..

  21. Wow this is a bit too late…but I’m struggling with this now. My grandmother named all of her daughter’s first born;s (which would be me). I think my mom went to school with a girl named Elyece and liked it; hence my middle name.

    Now that it’s up to me I’m very picky, have to spell things weird, and my family HATES everything I’ve picked out. The boy name was Kyler Trynt hands down….but here I am with a girl. I thought Pearl after my great grandmother but that is continuously shot down. I like Korryna (Korry) Nichole – but look at all the Nicole’s in the Diehl family (and didnt mom come up with Nicole for Andrea?) My 2nd is Meghan (after a piano student) Samantha (after dad) and 3rd Kennedy something. I like Jaidyn too. As OCD as I am I would love to go in with the definite choice. But, guess I’ll have to see what she looks like.

    Any suggestions.

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