The Woodcrest Morning News…with Justin Priluck

I sure hope Brian Williams doesn't lean over and kiss Lester Holt on the cheek before each broadcast

I sure hope Brian Williams doesn’t lean over and kiss Lester Holt on the cheek before each broadcast.

For the second year in a row, Justin was given the honor of being one of the youngest students in his school to host a morning news program called “The Woodcrest Morning News.” It is a pre-taped (by about 10 minutes) morning show which includes morning greetings, lunch details, school announcements, and the Pledge of Allegiance. He was originally given three mornings…but did such a great job, they gave him a fourth!

Truth is, he wasn’t “given” the honor. I had to outbid an 8 year old during a school fundraiser. Armed with his parents’ credit card and no understanding of financial value, this child kept outbidding me all the while smugly smiling in my general direction. By the grace of God (and possibly the call of nature,) he stepped away long enough for me to outbid him at the very last minute! Did I pay too much for this item? Probably. All I can say to that kid is, “Nah nah!! I win!!”

Attached below are all of his shows! Like any good host, he had different co-hosts each morning. Plus, he even allowed Garrett to make a cameo appearance! Enjoy!

Morning #1

Morning #2

Morning #3

Morning #4

“…And that’s the way it is”….Until next year!

Plant VS. Justin

Money Tree

It’s not a bribe. It’s just “a little somethin’ for yer troubles.”

Every year, each class in Justin’s school is assigned a science experiment to work on. The students do both group and individual experiments which are then put on display at a Science Fair/Silent Auction Fundraiser that the school hosts. This is a science experiment with a deadline!

Justin’s class decided to work with plants and other vegetation. Some of the students wanted to see the effects of colored water on the plants. Some wanted to see the effects of varying degrees of sunlight. Others wanted to see the growth differences between various beans. Justin’s plan was to simply “Grow A Plant.”

With four weeks to go, Justin planted his plant in a yellow pot. We went to Home Depot and he picked out a packet of wild flower seeds. When we got home, he put fresh soil in the pot…planted the seeds…watered them and waited…..

Week #1 – Nothing happened.



Week #2 – Nothing happened.

Empty Pot 2

For the love of God, please just grow!

Week #3 – GWE began to get concerned, so she asked me to get them growing. (Clearly, the ability to grow plants quickly was not a super power I was aware that I had.) I went back to Home Depot and picked out new seeds that I thought would grow faster. While Justin was at school, I replanted his science project.

Week #3.3 – Nothing happened.

Empty Pot 2


Week #3.5 – Nothing happened. So GWE called Justin’s teacher and asked for her advice. “Do we bring in a pot with no plant or do we “fix the problem?”” Justin’s teacher was calm and reassured us that sometimes this happens and that if we wanted to “fix” the plant – she would understand. The following morning, I explained to Justin that since his plant wasn’t growing, I would be going back to Home Depot (for the third time) to get an actual plant to put in the pot. I also explained to him that his teacher knew about what we were doing and said it would be ok. Justin asked, “Isn’t that cheating?” I replied, “No. Not if your teacher knew about it. She said this was okay.” He seemed satisfied with that explanation.

Week #3.6 – On my way home from work, GWE called me and told me that the teacher had pulled her aside that morning and mentioned that Justin had told his classmates all about our conversation in the car. Additionally, he said that I said that the teacher said that it was okay to cheat. GWE asked if I was aware of this “cheating” conversation. I hung my head in shame. Yes, I was aware of this conversation. Luckily, the teacher had a good sense of humor about this. (Note to self: Justin cannot keep a secret.)

Assignment Due Date – As you can see, Justin’s Science Experiment was ready to be handed in!

Flower in pot

It’s a MIRACLE!!!!

There is an addendum to this story. Several days later, Justin and I arrived at the school for the Science Fair and Silent Auction. We wandered around for a few minutes and then Justin took me by the hand and led me to his classroom. Before we got to his seat, the teacher pulled me aside and said, “You’re not going to believe what happened.” And, then she motioned for me to see Justin’s plant.

Full Plant

Not only had the “fixed” flower we planted gotten bigger……BUT THE OTHER SEEDS STARTED TO SPROUT AS WELL!!!!

I have affectionately begun to call this plant “Audrey II” and every morning as I water it on the porch I sing, “Feed me, Seymour. Feed me all night long…. “

My Son’s Poetry Is Nothing Like the Sun

PoetryIt may come as a surprise to some people, but I enjoyed studying poetry when I was in school. I discovered poetry during my junior year of high school when an enlightened English teacher exposed me to the works of E.E. Cummings, Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, and Oscar Wilde. However, it was Shakespeare’s Sonnets that I found the most interesting. I was fascinated by “Shall I Compare thee to a Summer’s day?” and “Love is not Love which alters when it alteration finds…“ My favorite was Sonnet 130 – one of the most un-romantic, love sonnets ever written, which began “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.”

When Justin announced that he was having a poetry reading at his school, GWE and I made plans to attend. He told us that he had written his own poem, but would not share it with us until the evening of the performance. I begged to hear his poem. He said “no.” I pleaded with him to hear his poem. He still said “no.” Finally, I looked at him and told him that I had a poem for him to use. GWE looked at me with a skeptical look on her face.

I stood tall and with proper diction I began to present my poetry to my seven year old son:

I like big butts and I can not lie
You other brothers cannot deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get …..”

“STOP!!!!!” yelled GWE. Justin was on the floor laughing hysterically. GWE was giving me the “I-DON’T-APPROVE-OF-YOUR-PARENTING-CHOICES” stare.

“MORE!! MORE!!” said Justin. I continued to recite my poem:

“My homeboys tried to warn me
But that butt you got makes me so hor…”

“STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!” yelled GWE again. Justin was laughing so hard he could not catch his breath. GWE rolled her eyes at me, muttered something about “he’s only seven,” and then she simply walked away. That was the end of our home poetry reading.

The night of the performance, I once again asked Justin what his poem was about. Again, he would not tell me. However, he did crack a smile and asked, “What was that poem you told me before?” I (wisely) decided not to share it with him again for fear of him standing in front the entire school just a few minutes later and repeating the wise words of Sir Mix-A-Lot. (I’m assuming Mr. Mix-A-Lot was knighted for his poetic works. Why else would he be a “Sir”?!?!!)

As we listened to the other children’s poems, two thoughts crossed my mind: 1) If he started with “There Once Was A Man from Nantucket…” – I would have to find him a new school because he would have been thrown out of this one, and 2) Knowing Justin, there was a good possibility that the word “Lego” would be used.

With poise and confidence, Justin stood in front of his classmates and recited his poem. He was great! I’ve attached his poem below:

Page 1

Page 2








I think he’s got a great literary future. I can see the headlines now: “Priluck Wins Pulitzer.” I just hope he doesn’t tell the Pulitzer committee that he was inspired by the one night I waxed poetically about women’s posteriors and how they could not lie.

Mamas, Don’t Let Your First Graders Grow Up To Be Cowboys

Pic2With less than 24 hours’ notice, we were told that Justin’s school would be celebrating “Western Day.” Instead of wearing the school uniform, the children would be allowed to wear Western/Cowboy gear to school. Jeans were acceptable. Toy guns were not. There were no further instructions beyond that.

With GWE out of town, it was up to me to turn flip-flop and board shorts wearing (“Southern California Dude”) Justin into “Cowboy Justin.” For hours (ok, 15 minutes,) I scoured the house and garage looking for anything that could be considered “Cowboy.” GWE would have been much better suited for this task because she’s more imaginative when it comes to things like this. (I’m just happy when I remember to put my underwear on BEFORE my pants!)

I could not find cowboy boots or a holster. I could not find a badge or a vest to put the badge on. (Let’s be honest – Justin doesn’t need no stinkin’ badges!!) I was able to find a red bandana. I tied it around Justin’s neck and stepped back. He did look like a cowboy….however, it was the cowboy from The Village People. I quickly removed it.

Finally, I was able to find a jean jacket and straw cowboy-ish hat in the closet. I waited for Justin to wake up this morning and I presented him with his costume.

He looked at the clothes…and then me…and then clothes. He stated, “This isn’t what a cowboy wears! Isaiah [his best friend] is going as The Lone Ranger! I want to be The Lone Ranger too!” I assured him that he was going to look like a cowboy. But sadly, we did not live in “Daddy’s House of Costumes” and we would have to manage with what we had. With anger in his eyes, he put on the clothes – all the while never losing eye contact with me.

I have to admit. He didn’t really look like a cowboy. But, I couldn’t figure out who he looked like. It was a  familiar look. I just couldn’t put my finger on it…until we walked outside.

As we walked to the car, our neighbor’s Mexican lawn crew drove up. Four guys jumped out of the truck with leaf blowers, lawn movers, and hedge clippers. All of them were wearing “double denim” (jeans and jean jacket) and straw, cowboy-ish hats. I thought, “Oh shit! I dressed Justin like a Mexican gardener!”  (By the way, I don’t mean for this to be offensive….but the similarities were undeniable.)

I quickly ushered Justin into the car, but I’m pretty sure he saw the crew and he probably recognized the similarities as well. Thankfully, he said nothing and climbed into the car.

In the future, could the school give us a little more notice when choosing a theme day??? “Superman Day,” “Transformer Day,” or “Mario Brothers Day” – I’ve got that covered. Anything else and I’m going to need a little time to go shopping!!


The Parent Teacher Conference


Yup! That’s really me in Mrs Ruttkamp’s 3rd Grade. (Top row, second in from the right.)

As an elementary school student, the three words I feared the most were: “PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCE.” Nothing good ever came from my parents attending one of these. While my parents may have found these chats with my teachers informative, they never ended in “Jason’s doing very well.” Typically, my parents would return home and tell me that we needed to “talk.” (To normal people, this implies a two-way conversation. That is not what my parents had in mind.) They would ask me a lot of questions that started with “How could you…” and usually ended in “What do you have to say for yourself?” And, then I would be grounded. (Bye, Bye G.I. Joe!)

True story – during a Parent Teacher Conference, my third grade teacher (Mrs. Ruttkamp) informed my parents that one afternoon she discovered me barking like a dog under my desk. First of all, I was not the one who was caught under a desk barking like a dog! However, I am a gentleman and I will take the true identity of that culprit to my grave! Second, I believe Mrs. Ruttkamp might have neglected to tell my parents about her anger management issues or her errors in judgment as an educator. I don’t remember her telling them about the time she threw a book at my head or the other time she threw a 1978 National Geographic at my face. (I liked that issue. It taught me a lot about African boobies.)

I am bringing up these psychologically crippling memories for a reason – today, I attended my first Parent Teacher Conference as the PARENT!

Without going into the details of the conversation, all I can tell you is – Justin is doing great. He’s a smart and funny kid. Justin’s starting to make progress in the areas that require growth, but he’s loved and adored by his friends, teachers, and other faculty members. Yes, there is a little immaturity, but he’s seven! He’s trying to figure out who he is and where the boundaries are. I’m 38 and I’m still trying to figure those things out!!

After our meeting, I walked Justin to my car. He clearly knew why GWE and I were at the school and I think he was a little nervous about the outcome. I stopped him in the parking lot, told him I was proud of all the work he had done, and gave him a big hug.

…and then as we drove home I told him about the time some crazy teacher told my parents I was a dog.

I am a Motivational Spelling Expert!

Anthony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and Jim Rohn may be great motivational speakers, but they could learn a thing or two from Gen X Daddy’s “Motivational Speller” program. In one easy step, I can have your child spelling like a champion! Having a hard time getting your son to spell “never?” I can fix that! Having a difficult time getting your daughter to spell “brown?” I can fix that too!

With my well-tested (one easy step) program, I can turn your illiterate first grader into a Spelling Bee Champion!!

Justin was having difficulty in school with some of his spelling words. He started the school year with excellent grades in spelling, but as time went on and his interest in spelling waivered – he began to get more and more of his spelling words wrong. GWE and I would spend evenings quizzing him and having him write down each word…and then we’d quiz him again. Nothing seemed to improve his grades.

Then, I stumbled upon the solution! Here is the secret to my “Motivational Speller” program: a Nerf N-Strike Elite. If you misspell a word, you get shot by daddy! It’s amazing how motivated a child will become while running away from six rapidly fired Nerf darts!


I thought the hand-written note on professional stationary was a nice touch!

Needless to say, Justin got a 100% on his spelling test this past week. Some may say that it’s the extra help he got from his tutor. Others may credit “Papa Jeff” for spending time with him and going over each word. However, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he found this note and Nerf Gun on his pillow the same day he crushed his spelling test!