Brent, Tina, Autumn and Avery Hanson
“You are who you are when nobody’s watching.” -Stephen Fry
When you live on the high ground in a neighborhood, you happen to catch glimpses of the simple, day-to-day moments of your neighbors. Not the moments that make it on Facebook, not the ones that are even remarkable enough to remember specifically, and ones not meant for an audience.
I’ve caught a few of these living next door to Tina Hanson and her husband Brent. All I’ve witnessed has inspired me to be a better mom to my children.
I’ve seen her make time for her daughters, be it joining them on the trampoline or playing kick ball or creating fairy gardens. Here’s the amazing part: she isn’t on her phone; she’s not reading a book; she’s simply present in the moment with girls Avery, age 9 and Autumn, age 7.
“Being a mom is the most important thing in my life,” she says when I ask her how she does it. “It’s the thing I’m super proud of.”
Tina says she grew up on a small ranch and always felt “included” in the work her parents were doing.
“Whether it was helping with the horses or changing oil, my parents had my sister and I right there helping. Family time was work time,” says Tina. “My mom wasn’t a person who would sit back and watch. She got right in there and helped. She’s been my role model that way.”
Creative and industrious, Tina says she just really hates being bored. She is always looking for something fun to do or a home improvement project to work on. “I do simple projects in our home,” she says modestly. “Whatever I can create with my compound miter saw, nail gun and sander.”
And when it comes to fun, she likes to be innovative and organized. “You don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to have fun,” she says. “I just look for fun things to do and make a plan; Brent is more spontaneous. But we’re both usually up for anything.”
In front of their turquoise front door, hand painted by Tina, the Hansen’s recently had a family photo shoot. In shorts and tank tops. With water buckets, soapy sponges and an all-out family water fight! It wasn’t at all a typical Christmas card picture, but it’s indicative of the family life Tina is creating. She and her husband try to savor every moment, not wasting a minute of their daughter’s growing up.
“I’m very aware of time slipping away,” says Tina. “I want my girls to grow up confident, independent and a little fearless. I want them to know it’s ok to try new things!”
Two Christmas’s ago, Tina and Brent realized they didn’t have a family Christmas tradition for the four of them. So, they created one. For two holidays now, they’ve researched a country and spent their family Christmas observing the traditions of another culture.
In 2020, they chose Mexico. In 2021, they celebrated an Australian Christmas.
“We pick out outfits for the family, decorate the house and try to play music that represents that country,” explains Tina. “Then we make that culture’s traditional Christmas time food and drink, and recreate whatever holiday traditions they have.”
For Australian Christmas, they got “Christmas Crackers” which are festive table decorations that make a snapping sound when pulled open, and often contain a small gift, paper hat and a joke. Plus, they all painted a boomerang and completed a puzzle of a kangaroo.
Tina’s extraordinary love and dedication to her girls is what makes her deserving of this recognition. Priorities firmly in place, and driven by her deeply held values, she models for her daughters and for us what it means to be a mother.
“I want my girls to know I’ll always love them,” says Tina. “Sometimes, I don’t actually feel like doing the fun things, like jumping on the trampoline. But I remind myself, they are only this age for a little while. I make the choice to be present now because I want them to know I’ll always be there for them.”
Kudos is a program of the local nonprofit organization Women Empowering Women. The program recognizes the good works women do. These are women who’ve lived quietly, joyfully or creatively to influence our lives. They are an inspiration and deserve to be recognized for their efforts and impact. Women Empowering Women is dedicated to the collaboration of women to meet needs and helping women become the best versions of themselves. To learn more see http://wewnetwork.org.
Tina! You’re such a wonderful person and an inspiration!
What a lovely story. Loved the Christmas tradition idea. Great way to educate children and a way to expose family to the world.