Dear Holly: Nearly 2 Years Later, It’s Hard to Imagine You Having Any Other Name

1 year, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

Like your brother’s name, Jack, you also have one of those classic, easy to spell, easy to recognize, but not overly popular names.

Every generation has its Holly, yet the name never quite pings the radar like the names Jennifer or Amanda from my age group, nor Chloe or Sophia in your age group.

Everyone knows a Holly. It’s a name that’s been around for quite a while, too; since the 1930s.

But I am pretty confident to predict that there will never be another Holly in any of your classes throughout school.

Whereas I pretty much immediately named your brother before Mommy had a chance to offer up anything, that’s how it was with naming you, but the other way around.

Mommy always had the name Holly in mind, if we ever had a girl.

So when we found out you were going to be a girl, there was no thinking to be done. Conveniently for me, Holly was a name that easily worked.

I’m trying to imagine you by any other name.

I could potentially see Jenna.

And even though I really like the name Lola, you don’t look like a Lola.

The funny thing is, I don’t know what a Holly is supposed to look like.

Anyone I’ve met named Holly has looked completely different from the next one.

I am very proud of your name. It’s not a name I would have thought of on my own, but thanks to Mommy, it was the only name ever considered.

Perhaps subconsciously, I’ve always seen your name as the perfect feminine foil to your brother’s classic masculine name.

If I’m going to have a son with a undeniably masculine name like Jack, who’s into Pokemon and Halo, then my daughter needs to have an undeniably feminine name like Holly, who’s into Minnie Mouse and baby dolls.

You were meant to be my Holly.



Dear Jack: More than 7 Years Later, I Am Still Very Proud of Your Name

7 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

A poll was recently conducted which showed that 18%, nearly 1 in 5 parents, regret the baby name they chose. But more than 7 years later, I can immediately confirm that I am part of the 82% who has no regrets about this.

I am sure there are some subconscious rules that parents have regarding the overall themes of potential names for their baby.

As for me, it is part of my own identity that my own children have classic, easy to spell, easy to recognize, but not overly popular names.

For me, the name Jack perfectly fits this description.

While Jackson (Jaxson, Jaxon, etc.) is undeniably a popular name for boys your age, it is not the same case for the name Jack.

You are the only Jack in your entire grade. Yes, there are Jacksons, but not other Jack.

And it’s been that way ever since you were 7 months old and began daycare.

Even when I was growing up, I never remember there being a Jack in my grade, or any grade before or after mine.

The immediate reason I chose to name you Jack was because that’s my dad’s name. I gave you your first name, and Mommy gave you your middle name; which is William, the name of Mommy’s father, who passed away shortly after Mommy and I were married nearly a decade ago.

While Jack is a very popular go-to name for male protagonists in TV shows and movies, it’s not very often in real life you meet someone named Jack.

It’s a good, strong, masculine name that is instantly interesting; as if it has its own built-in story.

You were so easy to name. And if this can make sense, you definitely wear the name quite well. It’s hard to imagine you having any other name.

You were meant to be my Jack.



The “No Such Thing as a Crazy Baby Name” Theory

People are giving their babies weird names these days. We all know this. It is an epidemic.

Openly, we don’t acknowledge it. But privately, among friends, we talk about it.

It’s a release for us. It’s confirms that we are not the crazy ones.

Right now, you’re probably already thinking of 2 or 3 weird names you know that other people have recently named their kids.

But here’s the thing. We just have to be okay with it.

Because that peculiar baby name is an expression of that parent’s identity and their perception of their own creativity.

And sure enough, you could have this same conversation with someone who named their kid something obscure like, Cheezeburger Rex, and that parent would instantly agree with you that other parents name their kids stupid names.

That parent of Cheezeburger Rex (which let’s assume is a girl’s name just to make this scenario more believable for a crazy name) would predictably say something like this:

“I know, right!? I know this one mom who named her son Spikey Purple. I feel so sorry for that kid!”

So maybe, in theory, the rest of us “normal parents” should assume that we are the ones who named our kids strange names?

I call this the “No Such Thing as a Crazy Baby Name” theory.

It’s inspired by one time when a guy told me, “There’s no such thing as a stupid tattoo.”

I could easily argue that it might not be the best decision to get a Chester the Cheetah neck tattoo. But if that guy embraced the tattoo as part of his identity, making it a way to express himself; to him, it’s not a stupid tattoo. Instead, he’s proud of it.

Similarly, it’s this way with baby names too.

So the next time I hear a parent proudly tell me that their newborn son’s name is “Dracula Titus” or their daughter’s name is “Intelligence Martin”, I know how I’m going to respond:

“That is the perfect name! It’s so creative, too. But that makes sense, because you’ve always been such a creative person. Well congratulations! (He/she) is so adorable!”

By doing so, I am able to give that parent confirmation that they chose a name that accurately reflects their own identity as the parent.

Their identity; not mine, not yours.

And, for better or for worse, the identity of their child, as well.

Dear Holly or Logan: Your Biblical Middle Name

18 weeks.

Dear Holly or Logan: Your Biblical Middle Name

Dear Holly or Logan,

We are just 6 days away from finding out, and 7 days away from announcing to the world, whether you are a boy or a girl.

Over this past weekend while we were in Destin for your brother Jack’s 5th birthday, Mommy and I finalized what your middle name will be.

Either way, your middle name will be Biblically based.

If you are Holly, your middle name will be Joy. Originally it was going to be Jane. I personally love the name Jane so much. However, Mommy pointed out that “Holly Jane” sounds a bit like “Mary Jane.” We didn’t want your named to be synonymous with marijuana.

However, if we ever have a 3rd child, and she was a girl too, the plan is for her first name to be Jane. I just love that name.

So Mommy chose Joy instead, for your middle name. Your middle name will serve as a reminder that in life, we must choose joy.

The Bible is full of reminders of the importance of “choosing joy” in the Lord despite what happens in life. One example is this verse, 1 Thessalonians 16-18:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

If you are Logan, your middle name will be Jeremiah. This is a name I had originally picked for your first name, but Mommy and I decided we wanted you to have a shorter first name.

While I was in college at Liberty University, one of the guys in the dorm room next to me was named Jeremiah. He is the only person I have ever known with that name, but I really like it.

The Biblical reference there is in the verse, Jeremiah 29:11, which is this:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Just this morning your brother Jack was watching an episode of VeggieTales on Netflix called “It’s a Meaningful Life,” in which the theme was that we are not here by accident; that God has a special plan for each one of us.

The name Jeremiah will serve as a reminder that you are special in the eyes of God, as he has a special plan for you; as He does all of us.

So now we will wait about a week to find out what your middle name is; but more importantly, whether you are a boy or a girl.



Dumb Tattoos Are Like Weird Children’s Names

June 19, 2013 at 11:21 pm , by 

2 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

Here’s my deep thought of the day for you, whatever year you end up reading this: Dumb tattoos are like weird children’s names.

I’ve learned it’s best to just not say anything in an effort to keep myself from slipping out what I really think.

But these days, there really are a lot of dumb tattoos and weird names for kids everywhere I go. Of course, I’m smart enough to not give examples of either.

What is considered to be a “dumb” tattoo or a “weird” name for a child is a matter of opinion… even if the vast majority happens to share the same opinion.

(I… think.)

No matter what ridiculous example I could think of for what I believe is a poor choice for a tattoo, or for a child’s name, surely there would be someone who named their kid that or has a tattoo like I would describe.

I figure, in either case, it’s all in an effort to be unique and express who they are in a way they want the world to perceive them.

Do I personally care about other people’s kids’ names or other people’s tattoos? No, I don’t. It doesn’t affect me.

Does it have the ability to make me flinch just for a second, then text message my sister about it as we try to “one up” each other with our most outrageous findings? No comment.

But the effort to express how I really feel about seeing what I consider to be a dumb tattoo or hearing some weird name that a parent gave their newborn child… it’s just fruitless.

Though I will say this: At least a tattoo only directly affects that person for the rest of their life, unlike the name they give their child.

Even those very parents who name their kids the most bizarre things surely themselves hear other children’s names that they think are ridiculous and then they go through this same mental process as I am doing right now.

So ultimately, in a world of dumb tattoos and weird names that parents give their children, and in a world where mentioning either of those in a Facebook status update can get you in a vulnerable situation, it’s better to think it, but not say it.

Except for you. In private, I’ll totally tell you how I feel. Just don’t tell the kids at school I said it.





Photo: Self Introduction, via Shutterstock.

Baby Names: Jack vs. Frank

In naming our first child, my wife and I were very careful to choose a name that fit several important criteria: a) it has to be familiar, yet not overused or trendy; b)  there can only be one obvious way to spell it; c) there can only be one obvious way to say it; d) it has to be a “classic” American name; e) it has to be a strong name, f) it has to sound good with my last name(“Alex Shell” couldn’t work because it sounds like “Alec Shell”- same thing with “Max”). So Jack was the most obvious choice.  But as we have daydreamed about what to name another boy if we were to have one, we’ve had trouble finding another boy name that would fit our criteria.

All I could come up with is Frank.  But here’s the problem with Frank.  It’s not a cool name these days.  You can’t name your baby Frank.  Despite all the cool, classic, all-American Frank’s in our nation’s history, Frank isn’t a cool name for a baby in the 2010’s.  Even Frank Sinatra’s legacy of coolness can’t change that.

So why has Jack remained cool but Frank has not?  I’ve only got ridiculous theories.  But here they are:

1. Frank is another word for “hot dog”.  Jack is not.

2. Not a lot of cool young names start with “fr”.  Like Fred, for example.  But a lot of cool young names do start with “j”.  Like Josh, Jerome, and Jake.

3. Frank is pretty similar to the f-word.  So is Chuck.

4. Frank sounds rhymes with both “stank” and “rank”, which indicate bad odor.

5. It’s not easy to think of a recent, young Frank who is cool.  The closest I can come up with is the Jewish Frank from the Ali Fedotowsky season of The Bachelorette.  But by referencing that TV show, it obviously is an indication of “not cool”.  (So what does that say about me for admitting I watch the show?…)

6. It’s easy to think of cool Jack’s- like Jack Donaghy (30 Rock), Jack Tripper (Three’s Company), and if this were 2003, Jack Black.

7. I can’t think of any negative associations with Jack, where I obviously easily was able to with Frank.

8.  As you continue eating leftover Halloween candy, keep this in mind: Jack O’ lanterns are cooler than Frankenstein.

What Not to Name Your Kid

There are some topics I would love to write about but I know they’re way too controversial or potentially offensive- this is one of them.  But if I am vague enough and only give over-the-top examples, I might be able to pull this off.

When naming our son who is due to arrive in November, a few ground rules were that the name had to be easy to say and spell, easily recognizable, and not made-up.  So that’s one of the many reasons we went with the classic American “Jack”.  Other than my dad, I don’t know anyone else with that name, yet it’s highly popular in movies and TV- therefore making it popular but not overused.

I do take requests as far as topics I write about.  “What Not to Name Your Kids” was an idea suggested to me by a few different people and I decided to take the challenge.  After all, we all are familiar with baby names that we say, “oh, I like that” when the soon-to-be mom tell us, yet we later tell our friends “you gotta hear this name, it’s so weird…”  So I have come up with a list of “no no’s” when it comes to naming a North American child.

Last names for first names that are not classic or already decently popular. Madison and Mackenzie are acceptable.  But when I hear more obscure ones like Middleton, Smithwell, Dresden, Spurlock, Applegate, and Hester, I can’t help but feel sorry for that kid.

Wrong gender names. Obviously names like Jordan and Taylor are good names that truly are completely neutral and work well for a boy or a girl.  But when I hear of a girl being named James or Scott or Todd, or if a suffix is added to a boy’s name to make it feminine like Markley, Davidanna, or Johnlyn, I get irritated.

Funny names. Jack B. Nimble, Robert Robertson, and Sunshine Day.

Random, made-up names that are supposed to be cute. Spiffet, Tindle, Gladdon, and Marxon.

It used to be that a person’s middle name might be a little different or off-beat.  But nowadays, parents are going all out on the first names.  That will surely be a trait of the Class of 2030.  Weird names.