Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's In A Name?

Did you ever wonder how we named our kids? No? Well, then, you can stop reading now and check out the other blogs you read. Honestly, I won’t get offended. You won’t hurt my feelings, really. Maybe just a little.

If you do want to know... feel free to continue reading.

A Bit of History: When Marshall and I married, and so joined our cultures, I became aware of something... in Marshall’s family, every one is named after someone else in the family. First and middle names. Even family surnames (like “Marshall”) are turned into first names. In my family, hardly anyone is named after someone else. We’re all just given names that the parents liked.

So when it came time to pick names for future children, I said to Marshall... “You want family names? I got family names! Names like Aldis and Delma and Verna and Marvin and Tilman and Oral and Zona. And surnames turned into first names? I got surnames in my family. Surnames like Nussbaum and Nuenschwander and Bibelheimer.” And quickly Marshall replied, “Uh, no family names.” And so we agreed to just pick names for our children that we liked.

Haven: Marshall and I went to Santa Barbara for our first wedding anniversary. We went out to dinner at a fancy steak restaurant. After we were seated, our waiter came over and introduced himself to us, as waiters always do. He said, “Hi, my name is Haven and I’ll be your server tonight.” Well, as soon as he walked away with our drink orders, we turned to one another and said, “Haven?! Wow... what an interesting name. If we ever have children, we should name one of them Haven!” (half-joking because at the time we vowed never to have children) But a couple of years later we changed our minds and decided maybe we would give the children-thing a try and the name “Haven” stayed with us. And so we decided, if our first child was a boy, we would name him Haven. And so we did. And he really is our Haven.

Seamus: I was in my 4th month of pregnancy with my second child. We were preparing for a trip to Louisiana to celebrate Haven’s 2nd birthday. Two days before we were to leave, we got the devastating news that I was going to lose the baby. Not knowing when this would happen, we decided to continue with our trip. Since Marshall’s family lives on a 600 acre cattle farm, you often find that you have a lot of time to yourself to think when you are there. Which is precisely what I did not want to do at this time. I told Marshall that I needed to get a good book to get lost in, while I was there. I told him I heard the Harry Potter books were good, so he went out and got the first one for me. During that trip, I totally got lost in the book, which I attribute to helping me maintain my sanity during a time when I needed a distraction. In the book, I noticed the name “Seamus”. I vaguely remember knowing that it was pronounced “Shamus” and I liked the sound of that. It was at that time, I mentioned it to Marshall and he liked it too. Toward the end of the trip, I had just 5 chapters left and I knew I was about to finish the first book, which I was pretty excited about. As soon as we put Haven down to bed, my contractions started. Due to the intensity, I was unable to read. I had started labor. A labor, which would take place in my in-law’s bathroom and last 5 and 1/2 hours. But Marshall stayed there with me, and sat on the edge of the tub, and read aloud the last 5 chapters of Harry Potter. I can never fully explain how much that helped me through the experience. And ever since then, Marshall and I both have been fans of the Harry Potter books and how they helped us get through that time of our lives. And so, the name Seamus tied us to both the books we loved and the experience that started our journey toward adoption. And though our Seamus doesn’t have a drop of Irish blood in him, the name fits him perfectly.

Marlie: After our Louisiana trip, we knew we needed a girl name in case our next child was a girl. After tossing around names in my head, I had a little epiphany. If you combine our names, “MARshall” and “juLIE”, you get “Marlie”. (either that, or Jushall) Now, combining names usually ends up making some ridiculous-sounding name, but with our names, it actually worked! So we figured, we should take advantage of our awesome combined name and use it if our next child was a girl. It just so happens that our next child was a boy, so Seamus he was. And we filed away the name “Marlie” under cool-names-we-would’ve-used-if-we-had-more-children. A year after Seamus was born, we decided we had room for just one more child... this time a girl. So we chose international adoption and the country of Ethiopia. And we decided to use the name “Marlie” for our Ethiopian daughter. We kept her original first and last name as her two middle names and gave her the combination of our first names for her first name. And Marlie she is. The perfect name for our youngest child and our only girl.

I’ll leave you with the latest pictures of our beautiful kids, taken by Marshall a couple of days ago.


  1. Your kids are so adorable!

    I should do a post on how we named our kids. That's a great idea. Our kids each have a Mongolian and an English name.

  2. Yes, I'm going back through old posts, and no, I'm not stalking you. ;) I just want to say ((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))), that Marshall is wonderful, and I HAD wondered about Marlie. I think it's beautiful. (And MUCH better than Renesmee. I mean, honestly. What was SM thinking???)

  3. I'm reading old posts too, And. Not. Stalking. At. All.

    re: workable name mash-ups

    I, last name Odom, was once engaged to a psychotic individual whose last name was Wise. I'm not so very traditional and didn't want to change my name. He hated his father and wasn't attached to his. So we decided to take the WIS and the DOM and make a new last name for ourselves. Seemed very poetic and meant to be-ish at the time (psychosis notwithstanding). He legally changed his name a couple of months before our intended nuptials, over my objections as I could see that said nuptials weren't really going to happen if I could possibly help it.

    Long story short (too late, I know) he is now married with kids and USING THAT NAME. Which totally freaks me out, particularly since I can't imagine what meek little woman would agree to take half of his ex's NAME for pete's sake. I mean, re-gifting jewelry or some such stuff is bad, but a NAME???