and the name of the baby isn’t…

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27 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    Yeah, I can see how it would be really important for you to make sure your BOY had a BOY name and not a name that was tainted by icky GIRL cooties. if not, someone might someday mistake HIM for a HER and then HIS life would be ruined.

    How misogynistic of you.

  2. Ashley says:

    Oddly enough, MY name wasn’t popular in 1983…..and then fast forward to the early 2000’s when I was a teenager working at a movie theater, and there ended up being 5 Ashleys working there!! (We went by our last names to avoid confusion.) The oldest was a year older than me, the youngest 3 yrs my junior.

    ‘Tis a pity that Three won’t be named Jacob, tho. I’m quite fond of the name, but I’m probably also biased b/c I knew a great Jacob at one point!

  3. AmandaE says:

    Josiah! Just a guess… I haven’t even looked at the puzzle, but it’s my brother’s name and seems to fit the categories. Maybe I’m right?

  4. Jennifer says:

    I looked at your puzzle. Way too complicated for my little mind. I might be simple so I’ll offer a name I am very fond of….LUKE.
    (my son, Luke, loves his name.) In that Luke was a dear and glorious physician, perhaps your son will unlock keys to the beautiful mystery of his brother and sister…………….

  5. April says:

    Hi, Gjersten family 🙂 I followed your sweetbabyjames blog over from cakewrecks, and fast fell in love with your sweet firstborn son. I’m a NICU nurse, and stories about NICU babies (and really any baby or child with health issues) really touch my heart. Honestly, I read his entire story from beginning to end in a span of several hours, and my heart broke at his passing. As you do, I take comfort in the fact that babies go straight to be with Jesus, and that James is laughing in heaven with a whole and perfect body.

    I am so glad to see that things are going well with this pregnancy, and I pray with you that things continue to progress normally, all the way up until your c-section. I pray for no more hospitals (after the c-section and recovery, of course), no visits to the NICU, no feeding tubes or central lines, no daily shots, no insulin pump this time around. I’ve only “known” you for a few days, but I feel connected to your family, and I really, really want you to have only things to smile about.

    With all the hope that Christ can bring,

  6. Ashley says:

    I had to laugh with what the ’83 Ashley said- because I’m a ’73 Ashley and it REALLY wasn’t popular then (actually more boys had the name then than girls- proof of what you were saying- once the girls “feminize” it- the boys don’t get it back). I remember when I realized (in high school) that it had become really popular- all the three year-olds seemed to be named “Ashley, Ashleigh, Ashlee” etc. I wish I had time to do the puzzle- I just don’t, but I am looking forward to the big reveal on here. I’m sure it’s great.

  7. Chris says:

    Well, I had just a few minutes to spend on the puzzle this evening, and apparently, he will be Amado Varfanseartlibamacies Gjertsen. Fantastic choice–I love it!!!

    I don’t understand the quote though.

    • john says:

      Chris—hm… I think you got a few answers wrong, maybe 🙂

      And as far as “Luke” and “Josiah” go, those are both super names. We didn’t choose Luke because it’s the name of one of Abby’s cousins, but Josiah was in our top 20.

  8. Ashley says:

    To Ashley-73: agreed to that! Oddly, people have often asked me if I was named after the character from “Gone With the Wind” (not the case, thank goodness, ‘cuz I don’t like Mr. Wilkes!) I like to tell them that my parents named me after Bruce Campbell’s famous character 😉

  9. Ashley says:

    To Ashley-83: Ahhh! I was named after Mr. Wilkes (he really was a wimp!) My parents are big Gone With the Wind fans and they fell in love with the name (if not the guy). My other name was to be Scarlett, but they thought it would be pushing it too far so they went with Susan (which is my first name and never have gone by- I didn’t even know if was my first name until I was 5). My favorite character is actually Melanie- she was one tough chick, but it took me forever to figure out she was the real heroine.

    That’s really a great mental picture to tell people you from the Evil Dead Ash. Haha- I could really throw people for a loop with that since I was 8 when the movie came out.

  10. Susan says:

    Ahh…I now know who Ashley-73 is since I only have come across one Susan Ashley who goes by Ashley. A Susan never forgets a Susan who goes by Ashley 🙂

  11. Ashley says:

    Hi, Susan!

  12. Ashley says:

    Oh, and did Dan call you misogynistic?! What is wrong with wanting a masculine name for a little boy (especially when they are tiny, pink and bald and people refer it the baby as “it” because they can’t tell-). Dan should listen to Cash’s ballad on this point, “A Boy Named Sue”- I think it sums it up well.

  13. Nana P says:

    John & Abby – The puzzle was fantastic! What a doozy – but so very interesting, and I really enjoyed solving it!

    Abby, I agree wholeheartedly with your name musings. I think a J name would be fantastic – and would also carry a little echo of sweet James – because J sounds so good matched up with Gjertsen.

    May I suggest another name test? Have you thought of the “handshake test” or the “telephone test”? Fast forward to Gjertsen #3 at age 25 at a social event: “Hi, my name is. . .” I think we’d agree that “Moon Unit” would bring down the house and throw a real monkey wrench into the gears, especially if it was a job interview! Ditto with calling on the phone for business or social purposes. Because Gjertsen will need to be spelled out, it would be nice to have a rather self-explanatory first name – James, Jacob, Josiah, etc.

    When my husband and I were young parents in 1970, we didn’t have a vision of our son’s social life as a man. We fell in love with one of Tolkien’s names, also in the Bible as Moses’ father-in-law, with the great meaning of “friend of God”: Reuel. We were so charmed by the meaning and association that we missed the idea that others would not know how to say or pronounce it, not to mention what the kids at school said about it! Finally, our son resolved this by deciding to enter middle school as “Tom,” because (fortunately) we had given him the middle name of his beloved uncle. It may not be original and weighted with wondrous concepts, but it’s easy to say and spell, creating great social ease.

    Sorry to be so long winded!

    We wait with excitement and prayers for your third blessing to arrive.

  14. Dan says:

    Ashley – you might want to listen to “A Boy Named Sue” again – you seem to have missed the entire point of the song.

  15. abby says:

    OK, it seems like a good time to clear up a few points here at the House.

    1. The reason I do not want my son being confused for a girl due to his name is a practical consideration. Our last name is already confusing enough to spell and pronounce without that confusion added on top!

    2. The reference to “cooties” in the post I wrote refers to the tendency for parents of boys to abandon using a name once it is used for girls. It is a cultural observation, not a statement of personal misogyny (although this accusation was amusing to consider for a moment). It suggests that Americans wish to keep male names more narrowly gender-distinct while they have a higher tolerance for experiment or invention or a kind of gender-playfulness with girl names. I wonder why? Now that would be worth discussing.

    3. You will be considered much more interesting (and welcome) as a commenter at the House if you share personal insights into topics we discuss rather than making inappropriate personal attacks.

    4. My analysis of the Johnny Cash lyrics finds multiple main points. Ashley’s idea, that a feminine name can create a lot of hurt on the part of a boy, is valid, as is Dan’s, that overcoming obstacles can make us tougher. I’d like to submit yet another: constant confrontation does not lead to fulfillment!

    Now be kind to one another!

  16. Ashley says:

    Hi, Dan- It would seem so- if you don’t listen to the very last line which sheds a different light on the rest of the song- but what do I know… I gave my son a name that is in the baby book lists of “tough guy names” and when put together with his middle name, his uncle (who works the toughest of the tough guy jobs on the front lines) called it the ultimate tough guy name… but maybe one day his passion will shift from NASCAR to ballet and so be it- I just don’t think there is anything WRONG (in fact, I think there is a lot RIGHT)with wanting a boy to have a boy’s name or a girl to have a girl’s name (or gender specific toys, clothes or activities)- it certainly doesn’t immediately qualify Abby or John as misogynistic and it certainly doesn’t mean they hate girls- as you imply… and if you reference the “icky girl cooties” as evidence you must not have attended elementary or middle school because in the process of natural human development it is typical for children to develop homogeneous relationships as they explore and define the differences in gender- translation= boys think the girls have the cooties and visa versa- and you would have observed that (unless you were fortunate enough to attend a cootie free school) . I thought “cooties” was a clever literary allusion that was meant to invoke our own memories and experiences so that we could better connect with the thoughts they were trying to express- not a insult to girls.

  17. Ashley says:

    Was that mean? I’m not trying to be mean…

  18. Rebecca says:

    I have kept up with your blog for a while now and have always meant to post. I’m soo very happy for you and your new little one on the way! Blessings!! 🙂

  19. Laurel says:

    Abby – I don’t think anyone here was attacking you. Of course, I’ve noticed that a lot of ultra-Christian types tend to be pretty over-sensitive (witness the “it’s war on Christmas!” nonsense that gets bandied about every year) so I can see where you might find that someone describing something misogynistic as misogynistic would seem like an attack.
    Second, I am completely baffled as to why you would be afraid of your little man being teased for having a “girl’s name” and then naming him Valor.


    You’re naming your child Valor. Valor isn’t a name, sweetie, it’s a word. You might as well name your kid Lightbulb. You do realize that he’s going to get unbelievable amounts of [teasing] for that name from the day he enters preschool until the day he dies, right? Right? And like Nana P said, imagine him going in for a job interview – “Hi, I’m Valor.” “…I’m sorry, do you think this is a joke?”

    Yeah, your name was unusual when you were growing up – but for God’s sake, your name is a NAME. Try an experiment: go around introducing yourself as “Cannoli” for a week. See how ridiculous you feel, watch people’s faces as they try not to laugh in disbelief and confusion, and then re-evaluate “Jacob.”

    I feel well and truly sorry for your children.

    • abby says:


      Yes, as we said in the post we knew some people would think our chosen baby’s name was ridiculous. It springs from our personal history and way of seeing the world, something that not everyone will connect with. I do hope you are able to get over it.

      I did want to comment on a concept in your comment, though. In my world, words have meanings. For instance, “misogynist” is a negative and critical word. “Valor” is a positive, somewhat old-fashioned word, meaning bravery. “Cannoli” is (I think) some kind of Italian food, and if it is a dessert it would certainly have a positive connotation for me. They are all words, and they are even nouns, but that does not make them identical or interchangeable.

      Traditional names have meanings, too, but often they are forgotten or unknown (except by English teachers, maybe). “Jacob” means usurper or supplanter (the same thing as “James,” incidentally), which conjures up the image of a conniving, grasping guy, and it also triggers a web of associations for anyone who knows the Bible story. Your name, which is also a noun, reminds me of the victory wreath associated with Olympic-type games, as well as a sad mythological story. Traditional names all have meanings and associations, not even all positive, so just because a word is meaningful doesn’t mean it can’t be a name. That’s my belief, anyway.

      Anyway, I appreciate your concern for my kids. RIght now they are all blissfully unaware of their need for it. Thanks for visiting the House!


  20. Rebecca says:

    May I just say, Abby, that you are full of grace. You truly season your speech with love and dignity.

    Valor is an honorable name that carries great hope for this little one’s future. It is unusual and I am sure it will give him many wonderful opportunities to tell an amazing story of hope, faith and love.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    While I think Valor is a lovely name, and it clearly has a lot of personal meaning to you, I’m a bit confused by one thing- you say in this entry that it’s very important to you that your son have a clearly masculine name, and yet Valor, to me, (just like Honor) sounds gender-neutral. In fact, upon meeting someone named Valor, my first thought would be “like Valerie?”

  22. Clay says:

    As a father of two boys who will have the privilege of growing up with your son Valor I am thrilled that I have the constant word picture denoted by his name. If he is anything like his daddy I’m sure he will live up to such a strong name. Critics of your choice have the freedom to name their children whatever they choose. May I suggest: oak, cedar or pine, which are all types of evergreen trees similar to your naysayers name.

  23. noname says:

    Valor…Such a name is held in such a high regard. Such an awesome name that Dad can base wonderful stories of this prince as he grows up. What a fantastic name! Jealousy can cause much bitterness to those who don’t have the qualities this name implies. Totally awesome! To God be the Glory!

  24. Faith says:

    My name is Faith, which happens to also be a noun describing a personal quality, like Valor, and to date the only truly grievous effect it has had on my personal development is the near-total unavailability of keychains and pencils with my name on it at souvenir shops. I managed to graduate magna cum laude from college without personalized pencils somehow, though, so I think Valor will probably turn out ok.

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