Looking back, I think Jeremy and I were really lucky to find a name we both agreed on as whole-heartedly as Miriam. This time around, it's been a bit trickier to find that perfect match, perhaps because there are three of us now: not only does the name have to appeal to both Jeremy and me, it has to jive with Miriam, too. I don't mean her little 2.75-year-old opinion; the style of whatever name we choose for Sasha 2.0 can't totally clash with what we've already established.
And as helpful as Eric D. Snider's advice on the subject may be, I found I needed a little more guidance.
Fortunately, there's an awesome lady out there who can help: Laura Wattenberg, the Baby Name Wizard. I wrote about her in this post, but recently I've been spending more time on her website, trying to figure out some great candidates for Sasha 2.0's real name. She also has a book, published in 2005 (but with a new edition forthcoming, I understand), which I picked up at the library here in Middlebury. At first, I thought it couldn't really give me anything that her website didn't already provide, but I was wrong.
For one thing, a physical book format makes for easier perusing if I feel like just flipping through the pages. In addition, her book includes wise, sound naming advice, brief looks at upcoming trends in the world of baby names, and lists of names organized by style.
This last section of the book is what really sets The Baby Name Wizard apart from other baby name books. Not all of us - in fact, do any of us? - go into the baby name search thinking, "well, I really want a name that starts with L," or, "a name with an Italian origin would be nice." And yet, that is how the majority of baby name books and websites are organized.
Instead, after a more traditional (but still innovative) listing of baby names, A - Z, separated into boys and girls, Ms. Wattenberg gives us tons of insight into what she calls Style Families. That way, if you want a name that is nickname-proof (or conversely, if you are set on a certain nickname and are looking for a full-length name that goes with it), or that ends in -en, or a last-name-first name, you can flip right to that section, read all about it, and peruse an extensive listing of such names. It just makes so much sense!
That doesn't mean the alphabetical listings are no fun to look through, though. Ms. Wattenberg has an excellent eye for insight into naming trends, and conveys the information in a concise, witty manner. And she goes way beyond "insights" like, "Gaelic for 'exalted one.'" For example, here is her entry on Misty (not a name we were considering, I swear, but it's right next to Miriam in the book):
"Forgive me, all of you fine, blameless women who were named Misty back in the 70s, but this name has now returned to its rightful realms: horses and strippers."
And, just for another example, Jessica:
"Everything parents have always loved about Jessica still applies. It's a delicately feminine name with Shakespearean heritage and a peppy nickname. It's an impeccable choice, but not one that will attract much notice - Jessica's been so popular for so long it gets taken for granted. Less common lacy classics include Marina, Tabitha, and Veronica."
So true, and so helpful.
Another unique feature of The Baby Name Wizard is its sibling name suggestions. These are names that are similar in style and feel to whatever name you're looking up, and can lead you to other name possibilities. Fortunately, there is a digital version of this sibling name tool: Nymbler. You just type in a few names that you like, click a button, and the program generates a list of names that you are also likely to prefer based on origin, style, and popularity. Here is what one click of the Find Names button gives me with Miriam, Veronica, and Cora as input (you can click more times to get a new list of names, and X the ones you don't want to reappear):
Even if you're not in the market for a baby name, Nymbler is almost as fun as the Baby Name Voyager to play around with.
All that said, I think Jeremy and I finally have a strong name candidate or two for Sasha 2.0. We'll just have to wait until she's born to make it official, and also hope that we don't change our minds before then.