Blog Post

The back story to the names in my new children’s book will make your heart grow 3 sizes

As some of you know, “A Southern Night Before Christmas,” my second children’s book, was released last month. It was published by the company I write for, It’s a Southern Thing, and beautifully illustrated by Michelle Hazelwood Hyde. You can buy copies here.

I wanted to share a sweet little backstory. In the book, I included a couple of paragraphs of children’s wish lists. The names I used are random or chosen for rhyming purposes, except for two: Sutton and Emma. I was inspired to use those names because of my cousin, Brandi Butigieg. Brandi and her husband, Chris, had a rough time conceiving, as many couples do. She lost three babies and nearly died herself during an ectopic pregnancy.

She was always meant to be a mama, though, so she and Chris adopted adorable girls — first Sutton, now 4, and then Emma, 2. Brandi, a nurse, is a wonderful mother and does all kinds of crafts and fun activities with the girls.

Sutton and Emma Butigieg

The idea to use the names “Sutton” and “Emma” stemmed from a desire to honor her journey and those of all parents who face challenges on the path of finding their forever families. Below is a clip of little Sutton receiving her copy of the book and finding her name in it. So sweet!

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