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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Confession: I’ve been Twitter-stalking Kendra Wilkinson.

The reality star and her football-playing husband Hank Baskett III have welcomed a baby girl, a little sister for Hank IV.  Normally I’d wait patiently for the name announcement, but a) Kendra recently shared that she’d shortlisted Maxwell until Jessica Simpson used it for her daughter and b) Kendra’s former roommate Holly Madison named her daughter Rainbow.

This could be a seriously headline-worthy name.

Kendra hinted the couple has a favorite, and it is something along the lines of Maxwell – familiar, but usually reserved for boys.  I’ve been pouring over the Geezer Names for Girls list ever since.  Lyle? Chauncey? Rudy? Jules?  Or is something more obvious, like Addison or Ashton, names mentioned by the couple previously.

After talking about Sophia and Noah for days, I’m ready for something unexpected.

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abby1-27-14

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

I’m imagining next Christmas morning at Buckingham Palace.

Sure, it is a palace. Even the simplest room is probably chock full of history and priceless antiques.

The children opening presents might be members of the royal House of Windsor, but they will share their rather ordinary names with children throughout the English-speaking world.  The current generation includes the princely George Alexander Louis, but also three girls – Peter Phillips’ daughters Savannah and Isla, and now Zara Phillips Tindall’s new arrival.

Any of the extended Windsor family names could be overheard on local playgrounds almost anywhere.

Some called the Tindalls’ choice disappointing, hoping for a Eugenie or a Zara.  But it also speaks to the incredible freedom we enjoy when naming children in 2014.

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fruit baby names

In the never-ending search for fresh green nature names, prospective parents have dug all around the flower garden, looked up at tree names and swum through a sea of water names.

One area of nature names that hasn’t been explored as much is –don’t laugh—fruit names.  Maybe this was because there was so much (perhaps unfair) snickering when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their baby girl Apple, even though there were some who liked the fresh-faced, wholesome image it projected.

We’re not suggesting that you call your baby Banana (the pen name of a noted Japanese novelist) or Prune (which happens to be really popular in France these days), but if you look beyond the common fruit names to some of their specific varieties and international variations, you might be surprised to find some interesting—and unusual– nature name choices.

Such as:

ANJOU—The Anjou is a type of sweet and juicy pear, which originated in Belgium but takes its name from a wine-growing province in the Loire valley with a rich history that includes such characters as Geoffrey the Handsome.  As a name, Anjou has a charming Bijou-like feel, and might be seen as a cousin to Anjelica and Angelina.

BERRYBerry has long been used as a unisex first name reaching a high of Number 435 in 1909 and staying in the Top 100 till 1971. It has one male and one female well-known namesake—Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr, and the late actress-photographer Berry Berenson (born Berinthia).

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rockbaby

Rock musicians have gotten the rap of being the most extreme baby namers, which certainly is true for some but by no means all.  This led me to wonder if their choices bore any relationship to the kind of music they played: would the Dixie Chicks, for example, pick names with a countryish flavor, Atomic Kitten more edgy?

And how about within the groups– were their choices in sync?  Since they functioned basically  as families on the road, how did their kids’ names work as sibsets?  In the examples listed below, you can see certain similarities—such as a Beatles theme running through the  Oasis offspring, and several other musical references, including Jagger, Les Paul, Elvis, Madonna, Bebop and even Rock .

ATOMIC KITTEN

ALFIE RIAD

CASPAR

HEIDI ELIZABETH

HARRY

JOSH

LILLY-SUE

MAXWELL MARK

MOLLY MARIE

BARENAKED LADIES

ARDEN

BENJAMIN

FINNIAN DAVIES

HAZEL

ISAAC

JONAH

LEO

LYLE

MILI

OSCAR

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tree names

Now that just about every flower in the garden has been dug up and used by baby namers for at least a century, maybe it’s time to look beyond to their more imposing cousins. There’s a very big difference between the two:  Where most floral names are frilly and feminine, many, if not most, arboreal names are strong, sturdy, and much more  masculine.

The forest is  fairly unexplored territory; with the exception of a few names like Hazel, Olive and Willow, most of the standard tree names are just waiting to be discovered.  Here are some possibilities:

NAMES OF TREES

SUITABLE FOR GIRLS

ACACIA
APPLE
ASPEN
BAY
CASSIA
CHERRY
CINNAMON
CITRON
EBONY
HAZEL
HOLLY
JACARANDA
JUNIPER
LAUREL
LINDEN
MAGNOLIA

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