–Able to Use Abel?
I'm not sure who started the idea that a pattern of three two-syllable names is a problem, but I don't think it is. Like so many "rules" of naming, it is a preference that somehow grew into a prohibition.
Hundreds of girls every year are given names like Campbell and Elliott, and we've all heard of starbaby girls named Wyatt and James. So a girl could certainly "pull off" McKade. The "McK" lead-in may have started out as a surname-influenced masculine name style, but these days it's used almost exclusively for girls: McKenzie and McKenna, as you mentioned, but also McKayla and McKinley, plus spelling variations of these, are all girl today—and all quite popular.
–Surprised Boy Mama
When you thought your son was a daughter, you imagined an Iris and all the qualities that name conjured for you: Radiance, perhaps; or blooming purple flowers, or rainbows, or Greek myths. Or maybe no images in particular, but the sense of a daughter, a girl called Iris who would take her place in your home.
While Gibson is a rare name, I wouldn't call it odd at all. It is used as a first name: It's ranked among the top 1,000 names for boys for the last several years. About 250 new baby boys in the U.S., per year, are named Gibson (and so are a handful of girls!).
Gibson is a fresh twist on a fashionable style, being a surname with a –son ending. That means it's a classic recipe for an attractive name. The fact that it has both a family connection, and a musical one, and you like the nickname? That’s a smash hit.
First, let's forget about spelling the name differently. How many people even know for sure how Flynn Rider's name is spelled? More importantly, how often will people first encounter your sons as a pair on paper, vs. spoken aloud—where the spelling doesn’t matter? So unfortunately, you can't spell your way out of this dilemma.
Oh, dear: This is more of a relationship dilemma than a naming dilemma. At least in the U.S., choosing a baby’s name is considered a joint decision—but of the baby's parents, not the mother and grandmother. Asking for a grandparent's opinion is one thing. A grandparent who feels like she has the last word on the pick is quite another.
–Not Sure If III Is the Charm
First, let's talk about whether Charlie is "too old." It’s true the name has been around forever, but Charlie—and Charles—are perennial classics, not so-retro-they're-out style duds. But of course, "old" is in the eye of the beholder, and the point is, you don't care for Charlie—at least for your baby.
Unfortunately, I'm a Name Lady, not a fortune-teller. And that's what we really need to answer this question. Do you have any idea how long you'll be in your home, or your neighbors will? Maybe they'll outgrow their space and move on, or you will. And—how to put this delicately?—the dog won't be around forever.
- Almost-Asher's Mom
This is the beauty and frustration of names: no two are alike. You can start with a list of thousands of boys' names and applying just three criteria narrows your list down to one.
You've described Asher's unique appeal well. It's a have-it-all name, a Old Testament classic that sounds like a contemporary action surname. The name's literal meaning, from the Hebrew for "fortunate" or "happy," feels like an extra gift to bestow on a child.
It's clear that this really bugs you. But it’s not clear whether others really know that. So your first step is to make your wishes known, clearly and firmly, but also politely. It will be easiest with new people. If they ask you if you have a nickname, just say “No!” with a smile.