Creating a Stepfamily Tradition: More Than Just a Name


After months of anticipation, vows were said, rings were placed, and a perfect kiss sealed the deal….. I was married.  Not just to my amazing husband, but also to his beautiful bundles of joy. Life felt just like that old movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” ding “You’ve Got Bonus Kids!” But I was no longer dealing with unread electronic messages, this was real life, two extra children. My bonus kids have turned out to be the best buy one get one deal I have ever invested in. They’ve indeed been such a bonus in my life!

Honeymoons are pretty much a standard ritual after a wedding, but not so much in blended families. With the delicate situation of our newly formed blended family, we decided to do our honeymoon family style. Familymoon.  This was our first test as a family.  Would we be able to have a great vacation full of excitement and bonding all while praying that we can keep all the children from not pulling out each other’s hair? Our familymoon was going absolutely fantastic, but then came a big identity crisis one evening at dinner. What was once a very easy question from the hostess, “May I get your last name please?” seemed as if we were standing in front of Alex Trebek asking the Final Jeopardy question on live television. My husband and I just looked at each other wondering, UUUHHHHH how in the world were we going to answer this? With me keeping my last name, our new family had three last names between the six of us. Not wanting to offend any of the children, my husband politely just said his first name.

This really got my husband and I thinking about how we were going to handle the last name debacle. The last thing that we ever wanted to do to our kids was to make them feel like they didn’t belong. So what did we do?  We took the first letters of our last names and put them together to create our new family name!  It was perfect!  We even went as far as naming our first family dog, Bell.  The word Bell is literally scattered in over twenty different locations throughout our home. From chore charts to our arcade machine that my ridiculously smart husband made by hand, to even a “Welcome to the Bell Pack” sign hanging at our front door.  The word Bell is everywhere in our home as a reminder to those vows that we made to each family member. We know that we are part of one group, one unit, one pack.

On our first anniversary we asked the kids what they would like to do, and what did they suggest? Taco Bell! Simply because it has the name Bell and they are so proud to be included. So now each year the Bell Pack celebrates their Bell-iversary. The kids all can’t wait for that day since they know we will all be together at Taco Bell. Cheesy we know, but it is a blessing to know that five years later this day is always on their minds, and always in their hearts.


Carrie Ellis-Berg Bio PhotoCarrie Ellis-Berg has been an elementary school teacher for ten years. Together as a blended family, she and her husband have four children.  After realizing the need for children’s books on blending, she felt called to share fun and exciting stories that would help parents and children learn, grow and adapt to their new family structure. She hopes that her stories will foster and strengthen relationships within the home. Visit for more information.