How I Named My Baby: Pippen Carol
Courtney and David Denker live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with their daughter Pippen Carol.
Pippen was born on August 31, 2022. Here, we talk to Courtney about how she and David named their little girl.
Tell me Pippen’s name story!
After my husband David and I had been dating for about a year, we started talking about baby names. I like unique names — but nothing too off-the-wall — and he shot down every single one. I was like, “Man, this is going to be hard!”
David said to me, “I’ve never told anyone, but I have a girl name that I like — Pippen.” We’re from Minnesota, but he was a big Chicago Bulls fan in their heyday, back in the ‘90s. Michael Jordan is his favorite player, but he felt Jordan was too common as a name, even back then.
So David fell in love with the name Pippen, after Scottie Pippen. Even as a teenager, he thought it would be a cool, unique, very sporty girl name. And I liked it, too! When we found out we were pregnant with a girl, we knew she was Pippen.
How did you choose her middle name, Carol?
Carol is a very meaningful name. My grandmother Carol, who I was very close with, passed away in 2016. I've always wanted to incorporate her name into a future daughter’s.
David’s mom is also named Carol, called Carrie, and my mom is Carri, after her mother. The name Carol honors both of Pippen’s grandmothers and a late great-grandmother — there was no question about her middle name.
Did you discuss any names besides Pippen?
We did have one backup girl name, just in case we had cold feet. Sloane is a little more traditional, and it was the only other name we could agree on.
Personally, I love French-inspired names, but we’re not French. I liked Aveline and Josette — singsongy, older names that could have a cute nickname. They’re not as popular in the Midwest.
My dad is from Calgary, and there are many street, town, and neighborhood names from First Nations languages in Canada. There is a city called Airdrie in Calgary, and I think it’s the most beautiful name.
Which boy names did you consider?
We really struggled! Ultimately we settled on Dawson, but we weren’t as excited about it as we were with Pippen.
The combination was Dawson William, so he would have had the same initials as David. Dawson means “son of David” and it’s Scottish, so we felt like it would be an ode to David without using the same name.
David wanted to go the basketball route and name a son Oakley and call him Oak. That felt a little too common for me — I have multiple friends who have used Oakley for their daughters.
David also has Russian heritage, so we looked at Russian names like Alexei with the nickname Lex. It felt fun and forward.
How did people respond when you introduced your daughter?
We FaceTimed our parents from the hospital and introduced Pippen. We had to spell it a couple of times for my parents, but David’s parents, knowing his love of basketball, caught on immediately.
My dad had the sweetest response. Pippen is the first grandchild on my side of the family, so my parents had to choose their grandparent names. The day my dad met her, he said, “This is Pip and I’m Pop.” He wanted to match Pippen.
What are the trendy names in your social circle?
There are so many unique names right now — names that I’ve never heard before, as well as old man names and old lady names that are becoming popular again. In Pippen’s daycare, she has classmates named Wade and Frances.
My friends are using vintage names and some of the trendier choices like Oliver, Ava, and Charlotte. I have five friends with little girls named Charlie! Two of my friends had babies at the same time as me, and their names are Ava and Lillian.
How did you decorate Pippen’s nursery?
It has a whimsical mural feature wall. There are beautiful, rich green vines hanging down from the ceiling and little pink and blue birds flying across the skyscape.
The furniture — her dresser, the floating bookshelves, and a play gym — are all made of natural materials without any color or stain.
We live in a condo and she doesn’t have any windows in her room, so we’re trying to create some lightness. There’s a big olive tree and a mirror in one of the corners to bring in nature and make the space feel bigger and brighter.
Was anything special passed down to Pippen?
Pippen has a little rocking horse that my grandpa made for me. My dad repainted it so it has the bridle and all of its features again. I have very vivid memories of playing on that as a little girl. It’s very special for me to have it in her nursery.
She has some heirloom clothes as well. She was baptized in a gown that is over 100 years old — it came from Germany on my dad’s side. My late grandmother, Carol, had sewn clothes for my mom that I was photographed in as a child. When Pippen gets a little bigger, we’ll have photos of three generations in these outfits.
What are the cool things for parents and kids to do in Minneapolis?
We have a pass to the history society which gives us access to a bunch of museums. There’s an old flour mill that’s now a museum very close to our house, and multiple zoos.
Pippen and I have gone to the library for story time ever since she was little. We try and take advantage of everything Minneapolis has to offer!
There’s a giant grassy park with trees that we try to go to a couple of times a week just to get her in nature. Even though we live in the city we want her to experience the outdoors and play in the grass.
Courtney's (and Pippen's) Favorite Things
Stokke Tripp Trapp
Stokke is my favorite. We love having Pippen be a part of our family meals.
We live in Downtown Minneapolis, so we wanted something that could easily travel with us and that we could take to restaurants.
This Is How We Do It
We try to expose Pippen to other cultures, even in the books we read every day.
Wooden Stacking Rings
Pippen engages with these so much more than other toys.
Thank you so much, Courtney!