Grammar Mistakes: That Just Ain’t Right

grammar mistakes are commonDear Mr. Dad: A few years ago, I read a column of yours that talked about grammar mistakes. I thought you were overreacting, but it seems to me that they’re getting more and more common. What’s worse, schools are contributing to the problem, sending out emails and newsletters that contain basic errors. If the schools can’t get it right, how are our kids supposed to learn? Should I just give up or is it worth fighting for proper English usage?

A: Don’t give up. Please. English is under attack and needs all the help it can get. Just to be clear, I have nothing against progress. If you’ve ever tried to read Chaucer or Shakespeare, you know that our language is constantly evolving. The way we use words changes over time and new ones are always cropping up (the Oxford English Dictionary adds or revises the definitions of hundreds of words every year). Just a few years ago, had you ever of hangry (being angry as a result of hunger), selfie stick, emoji, microaggression, butt dial, fatberg, or manspreading?

Personally, I love that our language is always growing and developing. And I’m all for learning new vocabulary and usages. At the same time, like you, I find myself rolling my eyes and groaning when native English speakers make mistakes on things they should have learned in third grade. Sometimes the results are funny. Sometimes they completely change the meaning of what’s being said. Let me give you a few examples:

[Read more…]

Why Your Kids Are Breaking the Law and How to Get Them to Stop

Barb Van Loon, author of Good Kids, Bad Choices.
Why your kids are breaking the law and how to get them to stop.
Issues: Differences between youth crimes and adult crimes; recognizing red flags that may indicate that your child is engaged in criminal activity; non-violent crimes that could land your kid in jail (including cyberbullying, sexting, pornography, identify theft, and so on); when to blame yourself and when not; is it possible to recover from having a crime on your record?

Please Don’t Bite the Baby + Good Kids, Bad Choices

Lisa Edwards, author of Please Don’t Bite the Baby.
Keeping your kids and your dogs safe and happy together.
Issues: Making sure your dog is prepared for a baby; verifying that your dog is properly trained and will respond quickly and properly; the basic commands your dog should know; how to train children to behave with dogs; why you should never leave a dog and child alone; what to do if something goes wrong.

Barb Van Loon, author of Good Kids, Bad Choices.
Why your kids are breaking the law and how to get them to stop.
Issues: Differences between youth crimes and adult crimes; recognizing red flags that may indicate that your child is engaged in criminal activity; non-violent crimes that could land your kid in jail (including cyberbullying, sexting, pornography, identify theft, and so on); when to blame yourself and when not; is it possible to recover from having a crime on your record?

Parents@Play Holiday Gift Guide, Number 2

In case you hadn’t noticed (a nearly impossible feat), the end of the year, with all its associated shopping madness, is closing in. So, without further ado, here are a few more of our year-end faves.

newertech LED LampNuGreen LED Desk Lamp (NewerTech)
Since the sun goes down long before most kids get their homework done, they definitely need a good reading light. The NuGreen LED lamp is among the brightest (not to mention the sleekest and most stylish) we’ve seen. It uses 50 LEDs to produce light that’s similar to natural daylight—without generating any heat. The lamp’s flexible neck makes it easy to position the beam, and all it takes is a gentle finger touch to turn it on or off. Those LEDs draw only 3.6 watts and last up to 45,000 hours (22 times longer than traditional lightbulbs), which makes the NuGreen easy on the wallet. $49.00.

newertech Power2U OutletPower2U outlet (NewerTech)
Doesn’t it sometimes seem that you have more electronic devices and things to be charged than places to plug them in? Problem solved. Power2U has two traditional outlets and two USB ports, which should put an end to (or at least reduce) the number of fights over charging rights. Power2U may also help reduce your electric bill. Anything plugged into the wall—even if it’s not being used—draws a tiny bit of power (called “vampire energy draw”). Here, the USB ports are completely turned off until something is plugged in. It’s easy to install and complies with current building codes. $24.99.


oregon scientific Smart AnatomySmart Anatomy (Oregon Scientific)
A wonderful way for kids to learn about the human body. The main features of this kit (named Alex) are the 16 detachable body parts and the talking Smart Pen. Touch the pen to any body part and you’ll hear the names of organs and systems, how they function, sounds they make (heartbeats, etc.), weird facts, kid-friendly advice on health and nutrition, and more. Kids can also play games and conduct experiments. Great for home, school, or both. Comes with a 16-page booklet and large poster. Ages 5+. $79.99.

animal planet yeti playsetYeti Playset (Animal Planet)
Do the folks at Animal Planet know something we don’t? Their toys usually feature actual animals. This one, however, let’s you make up your own mind about whether one of the world’s most elusive creatures is myth or reality. Comes with a nicely articulated Yeti character, chunks of “ice” that Yeti throws, a human character (who doesn’t stand a chance against the big fella), ice cave, snowmobile, and some “fish,” which are either food for the human or Yeti bait. For ages 3+. Under $25.

zoombinisZoombinis Logical Journey (TERC, FableVision Studios and Learning Game Network)
This is, without a doubt, the most entertaining educational video game we’ve ever seen. Armin and his older kids spent hours with this game back in the 1990s and loved it. Sadly, when child number three arrived, the game was out of print and Armin’s his new computers weren’t backwards-compatible enough to run the old discs. Fortunately, those adorable little blue creatures, each with a distinct personality and features, are back—and looking almost exactly like their 20th century ancestors. The goal is simple: help the Zoombinis escape their evil captors and make their way home to Zoombiniville. To do that, you have to guide them through a series of increasingly difficult challenges that require logic, data analysis, deductive reasoning, pattern recognition, hypothesis testing, and more. It’s simply not possible to have more fun than playing with Zoombinis. Ages 6+. For Mac and PC ($9.99), Kindle Fire ($4.99), and as an iOS/Android app.

The Flu Contingency

The family, not miserable at all.

The family, not miserable at all.

This content is sponsored by Genentech.  The experiences described and opinions expressed are mine.


When it comes to health, my family and I have been pretty lucky. My kids rarely get sick, and aside from a seemingly never-ending string of martial arts related broken bones, muscle tears, and other injuries, I rarely see a doctor. But all that health luck comes at a price: When we do get sick—particularly with the flu—we tend to go down hard. And we tend to go down at pretty much the same time.

The exhaustion, aches, fever, and chills—which seem to come out of nowhere—are hard on everyone, especially the kids. But as a single parent, trying to care for a sick child while suffering from those same annoying symptoms makes an already difficult job even worse.

At the rodeo -- always in the winter

At the rodeo — always in the winter

Like most people, we hate it when the flu makes us miss family events—many of which are cleverly planned to coincide with flu season.

Naturally, I insist that we do everything we can to minimize our risk: we cover our mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, we wash our hands with soap and warm water (or use hand sanitizer), stay away from sick people, and, just to be sure, we get a flu vaccination every year.


another view of the familyBut, as we all know, these measures may not always work. So we need a backup. I talked this over with my primary care doc, who told me that the next time I see (or experience) flu symptoms, I should email him right away and he’ll call in a prescription for Tamiflu® (oseltamivir phosphate) capsules. So what is Tamiflu? Excellent question. According to the manufacturer, it’s “an antiviral medicine that attacks the flu virus at its source and helps stop the flu from spreading in your body.” Sounds good, but my instinctive reaction is, “show me the data.” Well, it turns out that there’s actual research to back up these claims: Studies have found that compared to people who didn’t take Tamiflu within 48 hours of their first symptoms, the drug helped shorten the time adults were sick by 30% (that’s 1.3 days) and 26% for kids aged 12 months to 12 years (1.5 days, if you’re counting)[1].

Another really interesting thing about Tamiflu is that, although it’s not a substitute for the flu vaccine, if one person is sick with the flu, others in the family (whether they’ve got symptoms or not) may be able to get their own prescription, which may help prevent them from coming down with the flu at all.

A and Z, healthy as can be

A and Z, healthy as can be

I wish you a very healthy winter. But just in case, you may want to ask your doctor about Tamiflu. And if, by some chance, you (or a loved one) come down with the flu, this coupon may help you save money as well as help your symptoms.

If you have questions about your symptoms or simply want to see if the flu is prevalent in your area – this handy flu tracker will give you the information you need.


Genentech is not responsible for content on this website outside of this individual post.



Tamiflu is a prescription medicine used to treat the flu (influenza) in people 2 weeks of age and older who have had flu symptoms for no more than 2 days. Tamiflu can also reduce the chance of getting the flu in people 1 year and older.

Tamiflu does not prevent bacterial infections that may happen with the flu.

Tamiflu is not a substitute for an annual flu vaccination.

Do not take Tamiflu if you are allergic to oseltamivir phosphate or any of the ingredients in Tamiflu.

Important Safety Information

  • If you have an allergic reaction or a severe rash with Tamiflu, stop taking it, and contact your doctor right away. This may be very serious.
  • People with the flu, particularly children and adolescents, may be at an increased risk of seizure, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness.
  • Let your doctor know if you are pregnant, nursing, have heart problems, breathing problems, a weakened immune system (immunocompromised), kidney problems or other medical conditions as Tamiflu may not be right for you.
  • Also tell your doctor about any medications you are taking or if you’ve received a nasal-spray flu vaccine in the past two weeks.
  • The most common side effects are mild to moderate nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. Please see the Tamiflu full Prescription Information for complete important safety information.

You are encouraged to report side effects to Genentech by calling 1-888-835-2555 or to the FDA by visiting or calling 1-800-FDA-1088



  1. Tamiflu®(oseltamivir phosphate) Prescribing Information. South San Francisco, CA: Genentech USA, Inc.; January, 2013.