A perfect, joyful decision

Jeanne, left, Daniel and their 10-month-old son, Elton, will share the last name Happy once paperwork is finalized in November. The family is posing for a portrait on their pond-side dock Wednesday evening in Moscow. Changing their last name to Happy “was just something that we did to become a family,” Jeanne said.

Daniel Ross and Jeanne Rodriguez, of Moscow, recently made the bold decision to change both their last names to “Happy” in an effort to unify their family.

The couple’s son, Elton Happy, was first given the last name when born 10 months ago.

“When we talked about the idea of having kids, we thought it would be great to create a new family name,” Jeanne said. “And for nine months we mulled over this idea that we want it to mean joy.”

Although she doesn’t feel much of a connection to her old last name, Jeanne said she wanted to have the same last name as her child. Daniel said he liked his last name, but didn’t care if the baby took it.

Since the pair aren’t married, they wanted to do something to signify their family’s bond. Daniel said he grew up around family members who weren’t married but together for many years.

“Marriage was never that important to me,” Daniel said. “But being a family is important, and that’s why we wanted to change our names — to be one family together.”

Once they decided to come up with a new family name, the couple began brainstorming possibilities. They wanted it to be something meaningful, but not complicated.

“We didn’t want to just choose something out of the air,” Jeanne said. “You get going down the rabbit hole of all of these different names.”

As an art teacher in Genesee, Jeanne started the school year with students referring to her as Ms. Happy. She said it’s been a simple and meaningful change.

The paperwork, which she says has been more complicated, will be finalized Nov. 8. While friends and family became accustomed to the new last name several months ago, it still needs to be changed legally.

“It’s the perfect name for our happy little family,” she said. “You can create your own idea of what family is to you. And you can choose to be really happy.”

The family recently settled into a home on Moscow Mountain with 20 acres. Daniel built a dock for a small pond on their property where they hosted swim parties this past summer.

While being a stay-at-home dad, Daniel also operates his own excavation company with heavy machinery.

“Most people know that I want to live life the way I want to live it,” he said. “And I don’t let a lot of things hold me back.”

Palermo can be reached at apalermo@dnews.com or on Twitter @apalermotweets.

“It’s the perfect name for our happy little family. You can create your own idea of what family is to you. And you can choose to be really happy.”

Jeanne Rodriguez (soon to be Happy)

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