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As an unabashed name nerd (y’all, I legit have five baby name apps, three name blogs, and a baby name podcast on my phone!), I’m always interested in hearing how parents chose names for their children, so I thought it would be fun to share the behind-the-scenes of naming Kali and Sully. (You can read Charleston’s name story here.)

While many things intimidated me about having twins, one thing I was VERY excited about was the chance to name two babies! I quickly realized that naming these twins would be a lot more complicated than choosing a name for Charleston, as we not only had two names to decide upon, but I also wanted these names to coordinate with big brother’s. I’ve always appreciated sib-sets with names that work well together, without being overly matchy. Along those lines, we wanted names like Charleston that were 1) relatively uncommon without being too far out there; 2) on the long end (preferably three or more syllables); 3) had a familiar nickname; and 4) started with a different initial than Charleston and each other.

We began with our girl name, as girl names are easier for both Luke and me. My all-time favorite name for girls is Karalyn (this would have been Charleston’s name had he been a girl), but we ruled it out because it sounds so similar to Charleston. Kalinda is a name I discovered as a young girl when pouring through the baby name book my parents used when naming me, and I’ve always loved it. In fact, when we learned that one of our twins was a girl, my first words to Luke were, “can we please name her Kalinda?!” However, that decision seemed a little too easy so we explored several other name options as well. Luke’s favorite girl name is Juliet and that was high on our list. Other names we considered were Magnolia (nickname Maggie), Marigold (Mary or Goldie), Suzanne (Suzie), Holiday or Holland (Holly), Kaliya (Kali or Liya), Maryanne (Annie), and Mariella (Ella). These names all remained strong contenders, and we didn’t make a final name decision until the week the twins were born, but ultimately I kept coming back to Kalinda. She will need to grow into the name, but for now Kali suits her perfectly. (And speaking of Kali: a number of people have mentioned that, having seen her name written out, they assumed it was pronounced Callie [rhymes with alley] but we pronounce it Kay-lee.)

Kali’s middle name was also a difficult decision. Had we had two girls, we were going to use our moms’ names (Doris and Grace) as their middles, and if I could have convinced Luke to use a hyphenated middle name, she would have been Kalinda Doris-Grace. (Needless to say, he didn’t go for it). We considered using Luke’s and my middle names (Nicole and Ryan) as the twins’ middles. We also thought about using Juliet since Luke loves it, but I didn’t care for the flow of Kalinda Juliet, so we decided to save the name on the off chance that we have another girl in the future. For a while I thought we had decided on Jewel, but that soon morphed to Joy. I know it’s a common middle name, but I love both the sound and the meaning, and it reflected the joy I felt over finally having a daughter.

Choosing Sully’s name was a lot more challenging for us. I pushed HARD for the name Dixon, a riff on my maiden name of Dix: even though it didn’t fit our parameters of a long name with a cute nickname, I was willing to overlook that fact because I loved the name so much. To my great sadness, Luke couldn’t get on board with Dixon (he worried about teasing potential) so I had to let the name go. It was back to the drawing board, and in looking for long, uncommon-but-familiar-sounding names, we found ourselves filling our list with surnames. Strong contenders were Nicholson (nickname Nico—this was a VERY close second to Sullivan), Ricardo (Rico), Cleveland (Levi), Anderson (Andy), Nixon, Palmer, Brighton, Montgomery (Emry—Luke loved this one), Whitaker (Whit), Truman (Tru), Leland (Lee), Callahan (Cal), Quincy (Quinn), and Knoxton (Knox). We were really down to the wire with Sully’s name, and ultimately I left the choice to Luke since he had conceded to Kalinda. Even though Sullivan is a more popular name than I generally prefer, I am now so happy with the choice, as Sully is such a great fit for our little man.

Throughout most of my pregnancy I had assumed our boy’s middle name would be Ryan, though once Dixon had been vetoed as a first name, I strongly petitioned for Dixon to be used in the middle position. But once we had settled on Joy as Kali’s middle name, I thought it would be nice for our son to have a one-syllable middle name as well. Luke has always dreamed of having a Luke Jr., so he was thrilled when I suggested we use his first name in the middle position for Sullivan.

Naming the twins was quite a process, and I am so happy with where we landed on their names. I think they are lovely names individually, and together—along with Charleston Michael—their full names make my heart sing.

How did you choose names for your children? I would be honored if you’d share your personal name stories in the Comments!

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