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We are simply a community of fathers that love being active dads and sharing our journey. Our mission is to foster the community of fathers in the Reno and northern Nevada area. We promise to bring you information, entertainment and levity about the journey of fatherhood.
Kylee’s Wish: A Story of Hope and Resilience In this episode, the Reno Dads sit down with Kehl LeSourd, a dad who inspires us with his and his family’s story of resilience in the face of some very challenging circumstances. Kehl is the father of Kylee LeSourd (who, at age 7, was diagnosed with brain cancer)....
Rick Worthington is a diehard sports fan. Baseball, football, basketball — it doesn’t matter. Whether it’s an Oakland A’s game or his kid’s basketball game, he’ll watch it. One of the most memorable speeches Rick ever heard was that of the late North Carolina State men’s basketball coach Jim Valvano. Valvano is best known for the line,...
School Shootings Talking to your kids about a school shooting. This shouldn’t be a concept, but the news of another school shooting is again taking America by storm. This time in Parkland, Florida. Next time somewhere else, hopefully not close to home. I cannot imagine the incredible pain the parents are going through losing a...
Do you believe in magic? Not the Harry Potter type, but the Houdini type – slight of hand, illusions and physical feats. As somebody who celebrates the complete fatherly catalog of Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy (amateur magician/magic enthusiast), I thought it was cool to see my son take an interest in magic recently. And I...
Best Movie Dads In this episode, the Reno Dads gathered in the podcast booth to discuss the best movie dads. More specifically, we set out to create our own personal Mt. Rushmore of Movie Dads – each nominating four movie dads. This is a topic that can be debated endlessly. In fact, you’ve likely even...
Parents rejoice! We have another great activity option in town – Color Me Mine in the Summit Reno (south Reno, next to Century Theaters). What is Color Me Mine? Well, let’s call it an art studio that specializes in ceramics (or what I came to find out are called bisques). As you walk in, you’ll see a long wall of blank “canvases.” This includes everything from mugs to plates, picture frames to bowls, and flower pots to animal figurines. If they don’t have what you want, they can get it.
“We have the largest selection in Reno,” said Color Me Mine manager and master potter, Brittany Sundheim.
Paint Your Heart Out
The premise is straightforward. Select the items you want to paint (the price is on the bottom of all items – so there’s no surprise; it seemed to me that most of the items were around $20). You can reserve a time to come in, or simply walk in (don’t worry, they have enough room that you won’t have to wait to get started).
The staff is not only knowledgeable and creative, they’re very friendly and service-oriented. They will guide you through the process of picking out your paints, choosing the right brushes, and getting started. You’ll be seated at a table as a family, and able to paint at your own pace. The Color Me Mine staff is very attentive, so you’ll never feel like you’ve been abandoned. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body or if you’re channeling Michelangelo. This is such easy fun for adults and children alike. If you can only manage to slap paint on a surface, it’s still going to look amazing when it’s done (I know, that sounds crazy, but it’s true).
Once you’re finished painting, you’ll leave your creations with the Color Me Mine team to go through the glossing and “firing” process (which basically means they bake it in a large oven), which finalizes your personalized work of art (and keeps the paint from coming off). It takes one week to get your item ready for pickup.
I was impressed by the volume of special events and promotions available for parents to take advantage of. One, in particular, stood out to me – Date Night (every Saturday night from 6-9pm). As much as I loved painting with my sons, I love a well-deserved date night. But here’s the kicker – you can drop your kids off at Color Me Mine, let them paint for up to two hours, while you go have a date night! It’s convenient that the movie theater is next door – I almost never get to see a non-kid movie anymore.
Of course, you can also have a date night at Color Me Mine with you and your sweetheart (sans kiddos). It actually a really fun and unique couples experience to either paint your own item or collaborate on a single item. And what’s great is that you will have your artwork around afterward (be it in the kitchen, on the shelf, or at the office) to remind you of the night.
Let’s level it up even more – they have father/daughter and mother/son days, as well, often with special pricing. Keep an eye open for all the great theme nights they make available each month. They’re also equipped to host birthday parties (which sounds like a unique idea for the kids), or any kind of get together, really.
I’d highly recommend adding Color Me Mine to your rotation of fun family activities in Reno.
Note: Color Me Mine waived some costs to give us an opportunity to get firsthand experience. My words and opinions are 100% my own. I guarantee I’ll be back again (if for no other reason that to go on a date night).
In embarking upon the journey of discussing and hopefully improving the modern male ethos, I’ve offered my thoughts about “Improving the Merits of the Mind” and “Improving the Merits of the Heart”— two worthy endeavors for men and women alike. This article is to be my final installment in my three-part mini-series on male improvement. It may also be the most important because a man with a keen mind and a kind heart, while essential, will nonetheless be rendered useless unless he obtains a set of guiding principles by which purpose and direction often derive. That, of course, is my intention here: to discuss the importance of improving the merits of a man’s principles.
Many of the ills that currently plague men may be a result of a fuddled head and a feeble heart, but they may also be due to the fact that many men never subscribe to a code of conduct or a set of superior standards by which they continuously live. I’d argue many men, especially young men, live by the capricious tenets of feelings and convenience. While these tenets, like the low objects of which I’ve previously spoken, are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, they are not principles of a higher order; they will not guide men toward an excellent degree of morality, character, or virtue. Thus, I’d like to briefly address the misuse of feelings and convenience as tenets, and then offer some suggestions for a more principled approach to manhood.
Fight the Feeling
First, I frequently hear men say things like “if it feels right, it is right”; “if it feels good, it is good”; “fake it till you feel it”; and “live for the feeling.” The problem with these sayings (other than the illogical conclusion for a few of them) is that they elevate feelings to the level of a standard. This is somewhat understandable because pleasure in all its various forms is a feeling; and since we all seek pleasure, we often attempt to secure pleasurable feelings to a position of importance. Feelings, like pleasure, can not operate as a standard for conduct or character simply because feelings are purely subjective. Worse, feelings are terribly fickle. Some days I feel like running terrible Nevada drivers into a ditch as I happily speed past them; other days I feel charitable and am willing to concede my lane to another driver. Some days I feel like spending my 401k on beer and brats in Europe; other days I feel like being frugal and planing for my family’s future.
If I followed every feeling I’ve had to its intended end, I’d probably be dead or in prison. The truth is that most of my life’s mistakes can be traced back to a moment when I wasn’t thinking about things, I was merely feeling about things. It was my proverbial seizing of the day, only living once, and living with no regrets— all phrases used to justify some action that will eventually carry some level of loss or regret. Feelings are no standard by which to life; they are no benchmark by which men may elevate themselves. Feelings are often the involuntary biological responses men have that, if left unchecked by a standard other than one’s self, will inevitably lead them to ruin.
For the Sake of Convenience
Another oscillating tenet that many men try to claim as a standard of conduct is convenience. Doing things merely out of convenience, which is rooted in the desire for a life of ease, is no philosophy at all; it is how weak men are made weak. As I have previously pointed out, “the soft path makes for the soft man.” Now, I am not arguing against things being convenient. I appreciate my Bluetooth devices and microwaved leftovers— but they are things and the conveniences of technological progress, ones we all should enjoy. What I am arguing against is when people and principles are objects of convenience. Men should not be using relationships, acquaintances, or other individuals simply as an expedient for their own ends. Likewise, morality is not a marionette used for our own personal instrumentation. When people and principles are viewed as objects of convenience, a wrecked state of being will ultimately follow. I can guarantee that anyone in history that is considered great or anything accomplished that is considered great did not come as a result of convenience. Men who operate on the tenet of convenience are the sort that will never garner respect from others or for themselves.
It goes without saying that there are other volatile tenets that men use to base their life’s decisions (e.g. fortune, fame, followers on social media). Feelings and convenience, however, are two of the most detrimental to our collective male ethos. They are two of the most ruinous because housed under the umbrella of feelings is hedonism; and hedonism is a tenet that elevates pleasure to the highest good. Also, housed under the umbrella of convenience is docility; and docile is what men become when they view comfort as the highest good. This is why it is so important that men subscribe to a code of conduct or a set of higher standards that he does not set himself; otherwise our own subjective desires and emotional whims will lead us to set convenient codes of conduct and disturbingly low standards. Noble standards, ones that lead a man to a greater position in life, are external. They do not originate within. Time spent in the woods teaches me this. Allow me to explain.
The Wilderness of Life
Hiking is one of my beloved recreational activities, and I’ve hiked thousands of miles in my lifetime. I’ve explored the Ozarks, the Sierra Nevadas, summited Fuji, trekked the Australian Outback, backpacked around a number of European countries, combed through the forests of Thailand and South Korea, and so much more. I adore the connection one gets from walking the land. I also appreciate the lessons that are learned from setting off on one’s own. One such lesson comes from the fact that the designated trail often ends, or much to my wife’s dismay, I often choose to go off the trail to make my own way. In making my own way through some uncharted wilderness, often without GPS (reliance upon electronics in the wild is usually disastrous), it is imperative that a man has a point of reference by which to navigate; otherwise he will inevitably get lost.
Of course, a smart hiker always carries a compass, but being able to navigate by one’s own acumen is a skill all men should possess. Terrestrial navigation (or path integration as it is called in the animal world) is build upon the ability to read the land. Streams, mountains, tree lines, the location of the sun, and other topography can serve as a guide when no other method of guidance is available. The knowledge of magnetic north coupled with a visible mountain peak in the desired direction will help a hiker stay true to his bearings. If a man decides, however, that he needs no external navigational tool by which to set his course, he will inevitably stray from his desired course and find himself lost and at the mercy of nature— and nature is not kind to the ill-prepared man in the wilderness. In fact, it is deadly.
A man walking through the wilderness of life is no different from the man spending time in the forest; a navigational point of reference outside of himself by which he sets his course is essential. Otherwise, he too will find himself at the mercy of nature, human nature, and human nature is not kind to the ill-prepared man in the wilderness of life. In fact, the subjective desires and emotional whims of our human nature are often so destructive that they, too, can be deadly. Philosophers like Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jaques Rousseau have argued similarly. I’d contend this is precisely why male violence, depression, and substance abuse has steadily increased: men have gotten lost in the wilderness of their minds, hearts, and lives— and they have no external navigational point of reference to help guide them through. This is why a man needs a philosophy, a theology, or a guiding set of principles that is used when the terrain is rough, uncertain, or the clear path ends. These fixed points of moral reference, not the ever-changing self, becomes the beacon that will carry him home. If a man does not have these fixed set of navigational principles, and he chooses instead to simply go with the flow of nature, nature will carry him to unexpected, unwanted, and altogether dangerous places, places he does not want to be.
Courage to be More
Abraham Lincoln, arguably our nation’s greatest president, once said, “If there is anything that links the human with the divine, it’s the courage to stand by a principle when everybody else rejects it.” The courage to stand on a principle is what made Lincoln great; that same courage is what still makes men great. Lincoln subscribed to principles like honesty and integrity, stuck to them even when it would have been convenient to abandon them, and those principles guided not only himself but the country through the thickets of the mid-1800s. When a man has a benchmark that is above him, a principle that calls him higher, a man with a sharp mind and good heart will rise to meet it; but when a man sets his standard at the level of convenience, he is never forced to rise to anything other than his own capriciousness or emotion— and that requires nothing of a man.
The Man in the Mirror
I am proud to be man. I am also proud to be a son, a husband, and a father. However, pride (deep satisfaction, not excessive arrogance), like respect, must be earned. I cannot possess pride in my various roles as a man by birthright alone; I must be a man by work, reputation, and principle. Each of my roles is an immense responsibility, especially my role as a husband and father. It is easy to sire a child with someone; it is demanding to properly raise a child with said someone. If I am to lead myself, my son, and my family safely through the wilderness of life, I must sharpen my mind, strengthen my heart, and navigate by the fixed points of moral reference that are virtue, hope, faith, and love. I cannot force another man to improve his ethos anymore than I can force him to read books in an effort to hone his thinking, embrace adversity as a means of character building, or subscribe to a higher code of conduct so as to improve his bearing in this world. I can only do these things myself. Improving the modern male ethos begins first with me and mine. The same could be said of all projects of social improvement: change begins with one’s self and in one’s home. As for me and my house, we will strive to be better with each waking day. I would hate to have my wife, my friends, my family, or my son to one day turn, look at me, and think, “I wish he were a better man.” Instead, I will turn, look at myself, and fight to be that which they need, that which the world needs: a better man.
Like any dad, I love sharing my experiences and passions with my boys. One skill is situational awareness. While I can’t share with my boys the specifics of my work at the CIA, I can share with them some of the skills I learned. We can bond over these skills like a father teaching his son woodworking or baseball. These skills also serve an important purpose that I think is critical for my kids’ success.
I do find myself discussing my CIA background a bit on this site. It was a tremendous honor to serve my country in the capacity in which I served. The experiences I had made me a better person, a better man, a better husband, and a better father. And now I am proud to be able to pass on some of these skills and experiences to my children.
What is Situational Awareness?
Situational awareness is simply being aware of your surrounds, understanding what is normal, identifying what an anomaly is, and being able to respond accordingly. We have seen countless movies where some highly trained spy has a heightened threat meter and always seems to be a step ahead of an adversary. It is like a mom with eyes in the back of her head! Minus some Hollywood exaggerations, situational awareness isn’t too different and is a skill learned by practice. The hardest part is not walking around looking at your phone!
Why Should a Kid Develop Situational Awareness?
First of all, everyone should develop their situational awareness. Most, rather, many people practice situational awareness while driving on the road. They are usually aware of other cars, sometimes aware of traffic signs indicating speed limits, and once in a while the occasional pedestrian.
Children should develop their situational awareness skills to prepare them for a world that isn’t always safe. Developing situational awareness teaches a kid our societal norms in behaviors in specific environments (e.g. shopping, camping, etc). Situation awareness also teaches kids to be assertive in their environments which allows them to be aware of the norms and know how to navigate an environment in a normal way. And situational awareness teaches kids how to become confident in public and in uncomfortable situations. But again, these skills take a lot of practice to develop.
How Can I Teach My Child Situational Awareness?
I play a game with my son whenever we are out. We simply call it ‘the game”, but the idea is to develop my son’s situational awareness, his assertiveness, and his confidence in public or uncomfortable situations. The game is simple: we go through a store looking for people and things that stand out. I help him understand the baseline of the store, or what is considered a normal behavior one would expect to encounter in a given environment. We identify potential anomalies of normal behavior. And we prepare a variety of action plans in response to certain anomalies.
Step 1: Identify the Baseline
Identifying the baseline is the key factor in situational awareness. The baseline is the behaviors and objects that are “normal” to an environment. Each environment has its own baseline, from the local Target to hiking in the woods. Establishing a baseline is critical to being able to identify anomalies, or those behaviors that are not normal. Anomalies aren’t always a threat, however, they are worthy of our attention and focus.
Using a shopping trip to Target as an example, my son and I talk through normal behaviors in the store. My son and I identify the difference between employees and shoppers. We discuss what normal behaviors we should expect to see in this environment. We also identify the condition of the products on the aisles and shelves. Typically, products should be in good order and not all over the floor. Additionally, we keep a broad eye out for customers going about their business shopping. We are constantly assessing the baseline, discussing the baseline, and updating our understanding of the environment. Different times of day or year create major changes to the baseline that are not necessarily threats. An example is larger crowds being more prevalent on evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Essentially, this allows my son to identify normal behaviors for different environments and act properly.
Step 2: Be Aware of YOUR Own Bias
It is easy to become complacent in your security, especially in safer environments. This is a form of “bias” that overrides your situational awareness. Overcoming this complacency takes practice to constantly observe your environment and keep your guard up. I am not talking about a paranoia level awareness, but a middle of the road type awareness.
Check out this PoliceOne.com article on the levels of situational awareness. On one end of the color-coded spectrum, “White”, you are totally relaxed and unaware of your environment. On the other end, “Red”, you are alert and have identified an anomaly. You are taking steps to address and respond to the anomaly. The ideal level of awareness is going to depend on your environment. Generally speaking, you want to straddle the line of “Yellow” and “Orange”. “Yellow” is relaxed but alert and “Orange” is activated upon the identification of an anomaly. You are then taking steps to further assess the situation.
At Target, we are at “Yellow” prepared to enter “Orange”. We are working on staying alert when I task my son with the procurement of essential supplies, well, ice cream, on the other side of the store. Naturally, his tunnel vision kicks in as he makes his way to the ice cream aisle, so we have to fight that bias and tunnel vision.
At the park the bias for my son to go to “White” is stronger. It is a safe environment. Dad is nearby paying attention and the dog is always on “Orange” teetering on “Red”. Again, with practice, my son will work on staying in that “Yellow” as anything can happen in any environment and not all situations worthy of attention are “dangerous”. It could be as simple as paying attention to oncoming storm clouds.
Step 3: Be On The Lookout For Anomaly In The Baseline
A major point of situational awareness is identifying anomalies in the baseline. We have already assessed what the baseline should be in a given environment and are now onto identifying those anomalies. This could be an odd individual or group behavior. It can also be a sign that some event is taking place or about to take place. Not all anomalies are threats, but all threats are anomalies. Once you have identified an anomaly, you need to begin assessing the anomaly for more information. You also need to begin thinking about potential responses to the anomaly without raising suspicion or put yourself at further danger.
At Target, we determine the baseline and discuss possible anomalies and potential threats. This could be groups of teenagers to lack of employees. We are using all of our senses to assess the environment. We are alert for loud noises, strange odors, and whatever else is off. But not just threats, we are looking for anomalies worthy of our attention. For my son, that means helping someone who dropped something or holding the door for the people entering after him.
Step 4: Don’t Be An Anomaly
You affect the baseline of every environment in some way to include being the anomaly. Typically, being an anomaly to the situational baseline is not advised but it is often out of your control. I can’t even count how many times I have been in situations in strange countries, at strange times, and doing strange things. To anyone paying attention, I am the anomaly worthy of attention. But being aware of that fact allows me to adjust, to blend in, ensure I do not stand out, and make other plans accordingly.
I also teach my son to be aware of the changing baseline. If my son is off on an important ice cream procurement operation he might draw attention to himself. It is not common, after all, to see eight year-old kids strolling aisles alone these days. He knows some people will be more alert to his presence, typically mothers and employees, and they might engage him in a conversation about his behavior. If challenged, he would return to the baseline by simply explaining himself to the adult.
Step 5: Respond to the Anomaly or Threat
Situational awareness comes down to how you respond to a given situation. You know the normal behaviors in an environment and are able to identify anomalies. Being able to respond properly is critical otherwise you might as well reside peacefully in “White”, blissfully unaware of the world around you. Once a situation develops, having a plan is the difference between mission success or mission failure. Not all threats are dangerous. You might be out doing Christmas shopping for your family and need to know how to react if you identify a family member walking in the store. Some times the response is to engage the anomaly. If it appears someone is having a heart attack, running for the doors isn’t appropriate, however, rendering aid immediately is.
When shopping, we identify locations of employees and exits in case of emergencies so we can respond properly. We have a communication strategy in case of separation and guidelines on how to behave. The best example is my son knowing I will never leave the store without him under any circumstance. If we are merely separated he can continue to search for me calmly or engage an employee for assistance.
Teaching Your Children Skills for Life
I love sharing my experiences and life with my boys. I want to provide my kids with the skills that will give them the best shot at a successful life. Teaching my children situational awareness will prepare them for a world that is not always inviting and safe. It will teach them how to respond to a variety of situations that could prevent humiliation or save lives. It will teach them to be on the lookout for opportunities to help people and even help themselves. They will learn to be assertive in a variety of environments and not have anxiety in public or uncomfortable situations. Sharing parts of my life with my kids is also emotionally rewarding. It allows us to bond and continue to develop a relationship I cherish more than anything.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the Hall of Heroes at the Wilbur D. May Museum in Reno!
Hall of Heroes is Hands On
Hall of Heroes is an interactive exhibit, which means everything isn’t stuck behind three inches of plexiglass. You actually have something to do besides simply looking at artifacts. That being said, there is a ton of historic memorabilia to see, from old costumes and comic books, to props and toys. Check out this quick highlight reel we put together:
With Great Power…
But the real joy for you and your kids come in the form of testing your superpowers. I thought this was a really fun way to bring the superhero concept into something interactive. You’ll test your super-strength, super-speed, super-smarts, super-sight and more. These interactive elements are what really make the exhibit special. I even found myself testing my abilities (I had to show my kids I was a superhero, after all).
There were a number of really special props, such as a replica Batmobile from the old show and an actual phone booth (which my kids were baffled by – they had never seen one before). There’s also cool items like a TARDIS and huge “statues” of popular super heroes. My family had a lot of fun testing their super powers. You won’t need super speed – we comfortably got through the exhibit in about an hour and a half (and then headed over to the May Museum, which is included in your price of admission to the Hall of Heroes).
When: January 20 – April 15, 2018 Where: Wilbur D. May Museum Cost: Adults – $9.00
Children (3-17) – $8.00
Children <3 – Free
Seniors – $8.00 Contact: (775) 785-5961 or Website
Just for Grownups
CAPES & COCKTAILS
6pm – 10pm
A special, after-hours event for adult superheroes only! Don your favorite superhero costume and explore the Hall of Heroes exhibit — just leave the sidekicks at home! Food, drinks, music, and more. Admission includes unlimited access to Hall of Heroes, hors d’oeuvres, and one adult beverage token. Wear a superhero costume and earn an extra drink token! $25 in advance, $35 at the door. 21+ only. Tickets on sale now at the May Museum. Purchase in person or by phone.
Disclosure: The May Museum generously let my family check out the exhibit so we could share firsthand knowledge about how super cool it was.
In this episode of the Reno Dads Podcast we had a ton of fun as we interviewed Reno local, Dave Mulligan, about his first book, “Mulligan’s Wake.” Dave unknowingly started writing this book in the form of a travel journal during the period immediately following his father’s death.
Beginning with a series of youthful indiscretions, Dave bought a circuit plane ticket around the world and left everything behind to find himself. On his trip around the world, Dave had a series of “conversations” with his father about life. Mulligan’s Wake is the exploration of Dave’s relationship with his father following his father’s death and about living life in his father’s wake.
Dave Mulligan is a married father of three, living along the beautiful Truckee River. Dave hosts and produces travel shows for television. Dave’s father, Jim, was a writer on Laugh In and a producer/writer on M*A*S*H*.
You can listen to our show on 97.7 KWNK or here at Reno Dads. If you have any comments or ideas for future episodes, reach out to us on our Contact page.
We added music to our intro! And you are now able to subscribe on iTunes and through the RSS feed
Introduction of Reno local Dave Mulligan, entrepreneur and now author
Dave Mulligan’s background and the events immediately following his father’s death
An exciting adventure in Marineland in Palos Verdes riding killer whales in the middle of the night…
…and the consequences
Exploring himself and the world upon buying a circuit plane ticket
How Dave’s father shaped his life
How he got his book published
The Reno Dads Fast Five
Dave’s reaction upon learning he was becoming a father
What Dave learned from his father to make him the man he is today
Dave’s funniest fatherhood moment
Favorite part of being a father
What Dave hopes his legacy will be for his children
Resources / People / Stuff Mentioned in the Episode