7 couples who combined last names and the amazing reasons they did it.

Brangelina. Kimye. "Combined names" are a key step in becoming a celebrity "it" couple. But regular people all over the U.S. are doing the same thing. And making it legal.

I recently read about the phenomenon of married couples legally taking a smushed-together — or otherwise completely invented — version of their last names. Smith and Johnson become the Smithsons, for example. I started asking around: Had anyone else heard of this?

Turns out, a ton of people had. Almost everyone I asked knew a couple who had done it officially, done it unofficially, or at least thought about it.


It might sound kind of odd, but there are a lot of great reasons modern couples choose to do something like this — everything from gender equality (FTW!) to giving the kids a fresh family identity to make their own.

Here are eight forward-thinking, creative, and diverse couples who chose to use a combined name, and why they did it.

1. Carla Cole + Brian Martin = the Latimers

Photo by Carla Latimer, used with permission.

These two turned to an unlikely tool when they decided to combine names: an anagram generator.

"We wanted a family name to share with the kids," Carla says. She says they almost had guests at their wedding vote on their top five favorite names. Instead, they wound up choosing on their own.

"We dropped our middle birth names, moved our maiden names to our middle names, and added the new last name," she says.

And lived happily ever after.

2. Blair Eckenrode + Megan Christensen = the Eckensens

Photo by Shawnee/A Lovely Photo, used with permission

When Eckenrode and Christensen got married, they had some understandably complicated feelings about the institution.

Questioning the long upheld standards of marriage gave the couple a lot of freedom to define their own union how they saw fit. The first thing to go? The historic coverture laws that originated today's commonplace tradition of a woman relinquishing a part of her identity, her name, and assuming her husband's.

"We are a family, and we share every part of our lives with each other, and we also desired to share a name," Blair says. "So we got creative and here we are — a nontraditionally created name for a 'nontraditional' marriage."

3. Sally and Ryan Stauffer = the Elainskas

Photo via Sally Elainska, used with permission

When these two first got married, they did what Sally calls "the normal thing," and went with her husband's last name of Stauffer. A few years later, Ryan had a confession to make — he wished they'd gone another route.

"In the end we decided to combine Gaelic to represent his ancestry and Polish to represent mine," Sally says. They chose words that loosely translated to "people of art," plus a few tweaks to make it easy to spell and pronounce, and suddenly they were the Elainskas.

Their families have had mixed reactions, Sally says, but there's only one thing that really matters: "I couldn't be happier with the decision and with my perfect partner!"

4. Sonia Abrams + Stephen Moss = the Abramoss kids

Photo via Sonia Abrams, used with permission.

When these two tied the knot, they both agreed it'd be best to keep their own last names. The kids? That was a different story.

"We both felt a little weird about not having a little bit of [both] our names in our kid," Sonia says. That's when they got the idea to combine, and Abramoss just felt like a winning combination.

"My dad did not like it at all, but I think he got over it," she says. "It feels neat to have our kid's' names be a combo of ours, since our kids are a perfect combo of the two of us."

5. Sara Kunitake + Jonah Horowitz = the Horotakes

Photo from Jonah Horotake, used with permission.

"Sara has a very strong attachment to her family name. She’s the last Kunitake grandchild, and she hesitated to give the name up," Jonah says. "Also, she has invested a lot in building her brand professionally as Sara Kunitake and didn’t want to have to rebuild as Sara Horowitz."

So they merged to become the Horotakes. "We really like the sound of it and it merges our Japanese and Jewish heritage."

6. Jesse Rauch + Lissa McManus = the McRauchs

Photo via Jesse McRauch, used with permission.

Feminism has been an important thread throughout Jesse and Lissa's relationship.

"As our relationship deepened, I felt it was important to be completely equal in our relationship," Jesse says. "We both wear engagement rings. I didn't get on one knee — so we looked each other in the eye."

Jesse says most people are really supportive, or even jealous they didn't think of it, but his parents keep asking, 'Are you really doing that?"

"They may need more time," he says.

7. Ash Russell + Crystal Fields = the Rocketships

Photo from Ash Rocketship, used with permission

That's right. Meet Mrs. and Mrs. Rocketship.

Ash says the couple talked a lot about "how neither of us were really attached to our family names and how it would be nice to share a name once we were married."

Her alternative? Pick something random, but meaningful. It got the couple talking about their shared love of outer space.

"We joked about Lightyear, after Buzz, and then one of us — probably me because I am nothing if not overjoyed at being obnoxious — said, 'We should just pick something random ... like, rocketship.' And it just stuck."

From there, the paperwork was a breeze, and the Rocketships became the coolest family in the solar system.

Update 8/23/2017: One couple has been removed from this list.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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