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I really like Louisa -- I would not call it lackluster at all! And I think it goes very nicely with your other children's names. Louisa Bess is adorable.
Daisy is cute but does feel quite nicknamey to me. I do have a slight "airhead" association with it (mostly because of the aural similarity to "daze," perhaps?), and so I would love her to have a more serious option as well (especially given how dignified Solomon's name is!).
Nell on its own -- yeah, I too would prefer a longer name with your 1-syllable last. To throw another option out there: Helen is another name that has traditionally used Nell as a diminutive, and I think that Solomon, Mabel, and Helen sound really nice together!
While I don't love the combo of Ophelia and Opal for all the reasons that have already been mentioned, it occurs to me for the first time that Opal might actually be a really great nickname for Ophelia -- a name that I like a lot, but have always thought had the disadvantage of having no cute diminutives for something so long. (I mean, you can hardly call a kid Feelie, right?)
For a middle, I would pick Violet, which I think matches beautifully and doesn't feel "filler" to me at all. I don't find the Shakespearean connotations overwhelming, just kind of cool. Ophelia Pepper could grow on me, but the styles are so very different that I find it a little jarring on the first encounter.
Milo goes beautifully with your girls' names, and you should totally feel comfortable about using it!
None of the associations it has are bad ones, and there will always be someone who says some whackaloon thing about any name you pick. :) Really, I would go with your original instincts on this.
FYI, all the other boys' names you've listed are quite a bit higher on the SSA popularity list than Milo is (if you count the different spellings of Phinn), so I think you're doing fine on the trendiness factor. (As mom to a Silas, I can tell you that it's rising faster than I'd expected, and I know a surprisingly huge number of Elis.)
Intriguing collection, thank you!
You raise an interesting point about the thematic/stylistic matching. I realize they do seem very different at first blush. However, Silas is actually way more common in Northern Europe than it is here in the US, so I figure they at least have a sort of geographic link...
Anna Katerina is indeed quite visually similar to Anna Karenina. But because the stress pattern of Katerina is so different (ka-teh-REE-na vs ka-REH-ni-na) I don't think they actually sound alike at all when you say them aloud. Not the sort of thing that should automatically dissuade you, I agree.
I think the spelling "Maxim" probably will often yield the MAX-im pronunciation, but that is easily correctable. And if he is going by Max most of the time, the issue might rarely come up anyway. You could, I suppose, always use the French spelling of Maxime (although then there might be some occasional confusion with the girls' name Maxine).
I definitely don't think you need a one-syllable name. I do think you should look for something that has a slightly unisex vibe, or at least a surname-y feel. (If you had, say, Reese, Quinn and Lola, people might assume it was two brothers and a sister, because Lola is so unequivocally feminine whereas the others are not.) Of the names you listed, Paige is by far the best fit.
I like the suggestions of Harper, Arden, Piper, and Greer/Grier. Jordan could also be cute. Avery, Bellamy, Cameron, Cassidy, and Delaney are more than two syllables, but I think they are really nice with the set. Even Meredith could work!
Many nice suggestions. Can I interest you in Marina? I have known people by that name who were, variously, Greek, Russian, Italian, and British, so I think it meets your international stipulation pretty well. Obviously, it's not ideal in front of Katerina, unfortunately. Still, not trendy, and very lovely.
But actually, I do like Anna a lot. I am also a huge fan of the nickname Anya, if you want something a little more unusual for everyday.
I definitely don't think that by using Hudson Taylor you have committed yourself to a theme of any kind, other than "name with personal significance to us, not merely something that sounds good."
But many of the other missionary names you have listed are quite attractive as well! However, if you do use one of them for a second child, then I think you'd want to carry the pattern through to a hypothetical third child, so that s/he isn't the odd one out -- so you will need a couple of desirable backups for each sex! My only fear would be that you may find that your third-choice missionary isn't as personally compelling to you as Hudson Taylor, and that in your heart you'd ultimately prefer a different name. And it would be a pity to feel stuck, I think.
If you don't stick with missionaries, though, then I think you have a ton of leeway -- you could pick a name whose meaning appealed to you, or you could look to namesakes who were dear to you personally, or to other public figures whom you admired, etc. etc.
I am in favor of using the Chinese name as an official second middle (unless you want it as the sole middle, which is great too). I think second middles do frequently get left off legal documents for bureaucratic reasons (actually, even single middle names do!), but if that doesn't bother you too much, go for it.
When I first saw the title of this thread, I could not even imagine what the problem with the initials MI might be, unless it was that you had something against the state of Michigan!
i do get the perils of working in an acronym-rich field, though! I imagine there are literally hundreds of initial combos that seem really loaded to you -- but that most of us would not bat an eyelash at. I think that until and unless your son becomes a cardiologist or something, though, no one will ever notice the Myocardial Infarction link -- and by then, his peers will be mature enough not to give it a second thought. (We are not talking about initials like HIV, after all, where the acronym is part of common parlance. Laypeople, even those who know the technical term, still use "heart attack" almost exclusively.)
And actually, I think I might be sort of flattered if my nickname were Heart Attack. ;)
I don't think I can quite picture what a boy/man named Exodus would be like himself, because I'm afraid it doesn't really sound like a person's name to me. But if I came across a little Exodus, I would probably guess either that his family was religious in a fundamentalist but non-mainstream way, OR that they were totally nonreligious and not well-acquainted with the terminology, and going for a vaguely sci-fi sound. (These would be snap judgments and not necessarily fair, but that's where my mind would go first.)
Actually, on an adult, I would first figure that it was an assumed name for effect: I can kind of imagine it being used by a graffiti artist or club DJ or performance artist or something.
I'm going to lobby hard for Torin. I think it's stylish and unusual, yet still extremely easy to process even if you haven't heard it before. And it sounds absolutely fantastic with Isla and Juliet.
I do like Liev as well, but I confess I find it a bit of a mismatch with his sisters' names. I also adore Jasper, but I am hearing that on a lot of playgrounds these days. Rowan is quite nice too.
Oh my goodness, heyjuliet, I am so very sorry for your loss. I am really glad that you have the support of your wonderful friends and your/his family.
I have to agree with the previous posters: I think you truly cannot go wrong with either Natalie or Natalia, because they really are minimally different versions of the same name. Natalia Johanna and Natalie Johanna are both gorgeous (and btw, i also really like Belinda Anneliese!).
But here's a thought, in case you want to hedge your bets a little: it is easier to get the nickname Natalie out of Natalia than the other way around. So suppose you named her Natalia officially, then waited to see what you were naturally calling her on a day-to-day basis? You might find that she really was a Natalia to you, or you might slip into calling her Natalie -- and that might be the way your husband "speaks" to you, like the previous poster describes. (Or you might realize that you're drawn to calling her something totally different, like Nat or Natasha or who knows -- and that would be perfect too!)
Best wishes to you.
I too was going to propose Juliette. I actually prefer it as Juliet, but the extra letters would match better with Annabelle.
I'm probably oversimplifying, but looking at both your lists, it seems that your husband is sort of riffing off the very feminine/graceful vibe of Annabelle, whereas you are responding more to the classic/Victorian/unusual-but-not-wacky feel it has.
So, trying to reconcile the two, I come up with:
Felicity (or Felicia/Felice)
From your existing list, the ones I'm most drawn to are: Carolina (but prefer Caroline), Cecilia, Clara, Evelyn, Lucia. And I might tweak Leora to Leonora or Leonore for a better stylistic match to Annabelle. I also like the suggestions of Georgia and Miranda.
I quite like the name Thisbe, and unless your last name describes a distinctly negative characteristic, I wouldn't worry about the potential puns. I mean, if you're worried about teasing, kids often tease each other for their last names anyway ("ha ha, you're ___!"), and it doesn't seem like "This Be ___" will actually add any substantive ammunition to that, if you see what I mean. It's true that you are likely to encounter some spelling or pronunciation confusion at some point, just because it's an unfamiliar name to a lot of people -- but it's not actually counterintuitive or anything, so I think you should be fine.
I like Elina, but to be perfectly honest, my geographical area is so utterly saturated with El- names that it isn't my favorite. I also think that given that the stressed syllables are the same in AnneLIese and ELIna, they are perhaps not the optimal sibling pair.
Names that first spring to mind:
Cecilia (sort of pan-European, but popular in all your heritage countries)
Leonie (extremely popular in Germany right now; I also like Leonor and Lenora)
Milena (is this too similar to cousin Alayna?)
Taissa (Ukrainian; a little out there, but maybe is becoming more familiar to North Americans via actress Taissa Farmiga)
Aha! Well, I had already picked Clara, but they are both nice -- I just know many more little Lillian/Lilys.
If you do decide to go with Lillian, then I agree with many of the previous posters: I would just say something like "We wanted to surprise you and who knew, you went on fastened on exactly the name we loved! Aren't you just amazing! Hope you're as pleased as we are!" (And I admit I would secretly grit my teeth -- who on earth just decides on a first name to call someone else's baby, anyway?! -- but it would ultimately make for nice warm fuzzies all around.)
Okay, sorry about that: I accidentally hit post and can't figure out how to edit. So, briefly, the rest:
Are Silas and Saskia too phonetically matchy?
If so, can you suggest other names that would work better? Priorities in order: flows with surname, unusual, doesn't clash too horribly with brother's name. My husband and I each have some names that we like that the other one doesn't hate, but nothing that really excites us both. Some of them include: Tamsin, Amity, Kerensa, Astrid. Daria is one we like a lot because of family connections. (We both like it more for a middle than a first, but Saskia Daria sounds awful.) Clara would be on the list except we both hate how names ending with R or R+schwa blur into the last name. But like I said, I am feeling so desensitized to names that nothing seems to have quite that spark anymore..
Thanks so much!