Gel beads (or how we learned to love messy hands)

2 bonus points for everyone who got the Strangelove reference *dorkDORKdork alert*

I keep reading about these magical-wonderful-amazeballs gel beads that you can get at the craft store, in the floral section:

One of the 4 packets I got for $2 each –  at this point I’m not ENTIRELY convinced the tablespoon of beads will soak up ALL THE WATER. I remember sea monkeys, jerks. You can’t trick me twice.

With a little help (and a large dose of the skepticism you might have sensed above), I poured the beads in the water and set it on the counter overnight…

The good news? We only lost a few to the tile. The bad news? My bare feet found every. single. one.


They didn’t change color / container by magic – this is the pink and purple batch. Somehow I didn’t take pictures of the clear batch when complete. **facepalm**

So 4 packets swollen up and poured in a 3 gallon bucket looks like this:

Next time? Bigger bucket, same amount of beads. This was just BEGGING for dumping on the floor.

And an almost-2-year-old who normally hates messy hands but ADORES water beads looks like this:


Pushing the beads through a “tunnel”. Notice the omnipresent stick.

I don’t know, where IS my hand? *giggle*

Aaaaand sometimes the experiments DON’T work.

Background:  The pin on Pinterest said “mix equal parts clear glue and liquid starch to make goop”.  And who can turn down 2-ingredient GOOP?!?! So the first time we tried this, we used store-bought liquid starch, and it worked like a charm.  Equal parts slimy and goopy and cool.  Held together in a big slimy ball, stretched into slimy clear sheets – Awesome McAwesomeness.

EXCEPT.  I couldn’t find unscented liquid starch, and bought fresh linen scent instead.  3.4 minutes into the goopification, my nose was running and head pounding.  ABORT MISSION!!

So I read somewhere else that cornstarch mixed in water makes perfect, unscented liquid starch.  So what you are about to witness is the second attempt at making goop.

The ingredients. A nicely staged picture before this turned into the experiment from hell.

Mixing the cornstarch and water. Shirtless. SO PREPARED.


Explaining the theory of all the things.

It would appear gloopification has commenced…

…so we powdered the table. Not crazy about this part, and all the mess. But dealing.

Ummm… Mom? This isn’t GLOOP? It’s GLOP! AND ITS ON MY ARM!!!


You’re really going to make me play in this, aren’t you. *sigh*

So our learnings from this:

  • liquid starch and cornstarch + water are not equal.  Not even close.
  • the Little Scientist still hates having messy hands.
  • messy hands covered in cornstarch and glue take 15 minutes of sink time to clean.
  • a table / high chair / floor covered in cornstarch and glue takes 20 minutes to make bearable.  It’s still not clean.
  • math time: 20 minute activity, 35 minutes of clean-up.  Ew.


I linked up this week to the #iPPP group – you should check them out!



A few concurrent situations have been going on in Nerdhomemathfun:

  • the 4-6 pm WITCHING HOUR. Holy CRAPP. Both the Little Scientist and I turn into screaming banshees for two hours after nap.
  • a surge in preschool conversations at the playground. Who’s signing up for what, where and when. I know that we’re probably not doing formal preschool (at least for now) for fiscal reasons… And because I’m having WAY too much fun with my almost-2-year-old. Note: I reserve the right to change THAT opinion on an hourly basis.
  • the amazing Diana over at Hormonal Imbalances has started blogging about home(pre)school. And while I will nevereverever be as organized as her, a girl can hope / admire / emulate.


So here’s what I’m thinking: most days from 4-5:30 or 6, the LS & I are going to try to have a kind of structured activity time. (My hope too is that this helps prevent those days – that happen too often – where we get to bedtime and all the running we did all day was adult errands.)

Today, the inaugural day of Nerdschoolmathfun, we:

  • fingerpainted (my autocorrect wants that to be fingerPRINTED. Doh.) for almost half-an-hour!!
  • made and played with paint bags (pics below)
  • played a hand-over-hand rope pulling game
  • went outside and ran up and down our alphabet fence
  • picked puffball dandelions and practiced blowing them off
  • called Auntie K (hiiiiii!)
  • unloaded the dishwasher (his “chore” along with sweeping)

My fave moment was when we were sitting outside & LS wanted his water bottle. He ran to get it, drank, stood and thought, grabbed MY water bottle and brought it to me. *MELTS* (That he then proceeded to dump water on my lap doesn’t negate the sweet intention, right?)

I welcome any and ALL ideas for how to make this time better for us both!!


Blobs of fingerpaint in a ziploc baggie, squeeze out the air and tape to a window. Will hold a letter or shape “drawn” in the goo for 5-10 minutes!


Explaining things to me. All the things.

(Second try) Today: Rocks and Sticks and Letters, oh my!

You know how sometimes you can write something GREAT?!?! And just as you’re editing the last picture to put in the most hilarious, well-written post in the history of blogs, your computer dies and you lose it?  Yeah.  This is the post AFTER that post.

So we’ve moved into the toddler stage where the Little Scientist needs to have something in his hands at ALL times.  Usually this manifests itself as stick and rock gathering, particularly as we head into fall and spend a MILLION hours a day trail walking.  (What?  It’s free!  And exercise!  And did I mention FREE?!)  A brief overview of the last few weeks:

So today, when he demanded to bring a blue plastic cup in the car, I assumed it was to fulfill this hand-full need. Wrong.  He wanted to GATHER ROCKS.  Mechanical advantage, FTW.

See that giant field of rocks? 3 rocks made the cut. 3. Discerning toddler, he is. And Yoda am I, apparently.

And then, to melt me into a puddle of goo, he spent the post-walk drive to the store “counting” his treasure. Not with real words or numbers, but with definitive purpose.

“zsa Zsa ZSA!” For some reason my son counts like he’s the missing Gabor sister. I have no explanation.

Which brings me to our pre-lunch home activity. He’s been identifying numbers and letters in environmental print now for a week or two. I catch him “reading” all manners of things – his wall paper, his socks, the lettered bum of the sorority girl at the mall… (sorry ma’am. He was reading, not feeling you up. Promise.)

So while we were outside, I wrote part of the alphabet “life-sized” on the back fence. I figured the whole thing would be a bit overwhelming. And I ran out of orange chalk. And my arm got tired. The result:

Holy crapp, does my lawn need to be mowed! Who’s in charge of that around here? *crickets* Right… *blush*


(for size comparison, the kid is 3 feet tall)

And then he had to make some letters of his own:

Good times. Now to find some more orange chalk…

I linked up to the #iPPP group this week – you (yes, YOU) should go check out their Awesome McAwesomeness.


Not that kind of blog – recipe post (get your mind outta the gutter)

I know.  It’s not REALLY math.  I could futz with you and talk about measurements and all that jazz – but really, I just like this SUPER SIMPLE roast.  And when I cooked it for my dad last month he said it tasted like something from a restaurant.  Which is, quite possibly, the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about my cooking.

So.  With pictures, I bring you – Nerdmommathfun’s Salsa Pork Roast

You start with a jar of this. Sweet and smoky – I think I dated this rub in college. Only it was named Nate. And the rub part makes this comment more than a little creepy. Sorry.

You also need one of these. And I need a manicure. Ugh.

Several tablespoons of the rub go on and under the meat. You need more than you think you do. Honest. Notice the foil – that’ll be important in a minute. The blender, on the other hand will not. Unless you like kale smoothies. Nomnomnom.

The foil-wrapped meat and rub goes in the crockpot on high for 4 hours. And then on “warm” for as long as it takes you to get the kid down for a nap, fold a load of laundry, check twitter, and eat a bowl of soup standing up. (AKA warm until you can get to it.)

While the crockpot is on indefinite warm, chop up an onion and sautee it in a few tablespoons of olive oil. If you had a non-mushy green pepper, that is great here too. I very rarely have non-mushy green peppers.

Shred up the pork in its juices – most people would use two forks. I, on the other hand, used a chopstick and a baby fork. That’s how I roll. (Yes, I needed to do dishes – but that’s rude of you to point out.)

Dump one of these into the sauteeing onions. Yes, dump is a technical cooking term – again, don’t be rude.

Add the pork and juices to the salsa and onion – simmer for a half hour or more. If I’m feeling ambitious I use this to fill tamales. Usually I just serve it over rice and beans. Occasionally I eat it standing over the stove with a fork. Your call.

Enjoy 🙂

I linked up to the iPPP group this week – take a look at all the photo fantabulousness!


Homework help 4: multiplying and dividing fractions

If you can reduce fractions, and you can draw a straight line, you can multiply and divide fractions.


Let’s look at

To multiply, extend the fraction bar across the middle, and multiply tops with tops and bottoms with bottoms. (There’s a little bum-shaking dance that goes “tops-tops / bottoms-bottoms / multiply across”, that I’ll let you picture for yourself.)

So: which cannot be reduced.


If we have something like: 

We notice this can be reduced by dividing top and bottom by 21 to get

We could have reduced earlier in the problem.  Back when it said

Notice how the 7 and 14 have something in common (both divide by 7)? And the 6 and the 15 have something in common (both divide by 3)?

This is important – when multiplying fractions, ANY top can reduce with ANY bottom.  They don’t have to be in the same fraction.

SOOO – we could have done this problem by saying

Notice you get the same answer either way.  Reducing at the front or reducing at the end – as long as the arithmetic is correct, the answer is the same.  YAY MATH!

Now, division is just an extra step on the FRONT of a multiplication problem.  If you see a division symbol, first you flip the SECOND fraction, and then you turn it into a multiplication problem.

For example:

Notice that I DID NOT cancel the 3 and 30 in the first step, even though one was in the top, and one was in the bottom.  You can only cross-cancel (reduce in the front) in a MULTIPLICATION step.  Not a division step.  It’s bad form.

This makes a great place to point out that any number written over 1 is itself and vice versa.  (Huh?)  I like to say that you can put the “pants” on any number.  So if I’m trying to do fraction math and the number 4 pops up in a problem, I can “put his pants on” and re-write him as 4/1.  It’s the same thing, and much easier to keep the numerators and denominators straight.

Final example, putting it all together:

Great job!!  Next up – adding and subtracting fractions!