Question #1: Baby names

Tal wonders, I"m really curious about what you and Dixie are thinking about naming the future VanderBaby…or what the worst possible names you can think of would be.

Here’s how the naming process has historically worked for Dixie and I (she can feel free to correct me):

Dixie and I take turns making lists of boys names and girls names we like (using a baby name book), keeping each other’s lists a secret until they are complete. Then we “overlap” our lists, making a shortlist of possible names out of those we both listed. Names we didn’t both list are taken out of contention. Presumably we can come to some kind of consensus out of this shortlist.

In Madeline’s case we might argue that there was divine intervention in the naming process. We couldn’t decide what name we would like for a girl (names for a boy were pretty much chosen). One night—the same night—we each had dreams in which we named our child (a girl, obviously) “Madeline”. We did have a girl and we did name her Madeline.

Luke’s name, carried over from the name choices for our first child, was chosen in a more conventional way. We decided we liked it best out of the two or three possibilities.

We recently finished the shortlist process, and this is what we’ve come up with for first or second names:


  • Adrian
  • Dylan
  • Ethan (probably my #2 choice for first name)
  • Harrison
  • Lewis
  • Liam
  • Paul (my #1 choice for first name)
  • Willem


  • Ada
  • Adrianna
  • Alexandria
  • Elizabeth
  • Gabrielle
  • Genevieve
  • Jenna
  • Kate
  • Olivia
  • Rachel
  • Sophie

Call me sexist, but I like boys names to be short and solid sounding (Luke, Paul, Ethan), but I like girls names to be longer and prettier (Madeline, Elizabeth, Gabrielle).

We also marked names we liked from each other’s lists which we hadn’t written down in our own, as a sort of runner-up shortlist:


  • Benedict
  • Christian
  • Frederick
  • Marshall
  • Owen


  • Ainsley
  • Ellie
  • Alexis
  • Amelia
  • Gwynneth
  • Isabel
  • Margret

However, there’s the problem with the shortlist in that while I like all of the name options, I’m not sure I would actually name my child any of those. It’s one thing to like the look and sound of a name, but it’s another to like how it works with theour last name. Thus, while I like the name Genevieve, I’m not sure I like how it works with the last name tacked on: Genevieve Vandersluys. Too many v‘s in there, if you ask me.

Earlier this evening, Dixie read through the names on the shortlists and upon hearing them, I decided that most of them, while nice names in and of themselves, aren’t names I would give my children.

I’m a big fan of Charlotte for a girl, but Dixie has been vetoing that one since we started talking about names four or five years ago. Dixie has been pushing for Bridget, which I have been vetoing for several years, but Dixie keeps vetoing my veto.

Here are some names that I liked that didn’t make the shortlist:


  • Augustus (probably because of Lonesome Dove)
  • Hawksley/Huxley
  • Jackson
  • Nathaniel
  • Simon


  • Abigail (my mom doesn’t like this one, so it would be hard to name our daughter that…we’ll see)
  • Amanda
  • Amber
  • Amelia
  • Dakota
  • Fiona (a girl in our church is named Fiona and it’s too unique a name to use as well)
  • Julia/Julie
  • Miriam
  • Natalie
  • I also think Irish names like Seamus and Liam are great names, but they wouldn’t work with Vandersluys

Again, I wouldn’t necessarily name my child any of these names, but I do like them.

I won’t list “the worst possible names” for fear of offending someone. But here are some names you will definitely not see in front of “Vandersluys”:

  • Fletcher
  • Hitler
  • Vander
  • Prudence
  • Flatulence
  • Shaniqua
  • Bert
  • Bertha
  • (insert old-school name that your grandparents or great-grandparents likely have)
  • Pandora
  • something with a clicking noise in it

Hope this answers your question, Tal!

5 thoughts on “Question #1: Baby names

  1. Tal

    Yay! An answer, a link and a great post!For what it’s worth I really like most of the names on the “approved” short list. I’d account for nicknames if I was you though. My sister was going to be an Alexandra, but for fear of being tagged as Alex all her life, my parents went with Alexa instead. Um, also would it be the french Genevieve (jhun-vyeve) or the english version (Jen-e-vive)? I knew a french Genevieve who went by Ginny – that was cute…But Benedict? Really? I hope he’ll be a big guy like Luke is! j/k

  2. Dixie

    It would be the Engligh Genevieve — and shortened to Genna/Jenna most of the time (if we could figure out how to spell it from Genevieve).

    And a lot of those names on the list are middle name options — like Benedict. (We already have a nephew in town named Benjamin and good friends with a boy named Bennett.) Did you know that Ben Mulroney’s name is really Benedict? (Not that should make anyone like the name any more.) 🙂

  3. jen

    I really like the name Paul and I have always loved the name Elizabeth that was one of my picks for a girl but i honestly don’t know if we will ever need a girl name, now that we have two boys I just can’t see myself with a girl. you guys really have some good names picked out, even if you haven’t decide right away when the baby is born you’ll just know.
    Dustin and I were still deciding in between pushes.

  4. Collette

    names from your shortlist that I love:

    Adrian, Ethan, Liam, Paul
    Sophie, Olivia

    names from your runners up shortlist:

    Jason and I had always thought that since our last name was so difficult for people to pronounce, that we’d give our kids short easy names. so, we’d picked out Ben and Mia for a boy and a girl. not Benjamin, not Amelia, but Ben and Mia.

    a kid I used to babysit was called Amelia. at first her mom called her Amelia and her dad called her Amy. the intention was always that it would get shortened to Amy… but then their oldest daughter, who was maybe 4 at the time, couldn’t say Amelia but Mia. and Mia stuck. I think Mia is much more pretty and suits the kid much better than Amy. Amy never felt right.

    at any rate though, whatever name you guys pick will be perfect and wonderful! I hated the name Collette as a kid, but now I can’t imagine being anything else….

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