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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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.