It’s a Sunday evening. It’s been an exhausting, though very fun family weekend. But of course, as you can see from the title of this blog post, it’s been soured just a bit. I got an email that is clearly a troll trying to make me feel bad and/or threaten me (well, or the website in general)…– accusing me of stealing (content I’m supposing?)… May as well just share it with you so I can address it… and also to talk honestly and openly about what goes in to making these packets, notebook pages, and worksheets. I can assure you, it is a LOT of time and effort!
So the email from “R” is short, but not so sweet:
“You steal from people and I am going to make sure the whole world knows how worthless your website and business is, just wait and see what happens next to homeschoolden.com”
And here was my response
I’m not sure quite what you are talking about. I spend hours upon hours making our own materials and have for years – even when I was writing under Parents.com. I’m also meticulous about purchasing images and respecting people’s copyrights. So, if you have a specific concern, please feel free to let me know!
Let me say that as far as I can tell, “R” has never purchased any of my packets and is not on my email list. So, I’m assuming this is just a random person getting their kicks out of ruining someone’s day.
But then I want to take this opportunity to spill my guts to you because I dedicate hours upon hours upon hours making our materials. Just this past week I was up until 4:30am on Monday polishing up the Magnetism Packet, proof-reading and making sure it was ready to share. (I know that the most recent Magnetism Packet took me about 35 or 40 hours of work, all told. Many of the packets take me much, much longer!).
It makes me laugh (or cry) to be accused of stealing someone else’s work. This is my profession and I take my work very seriously (and I *love* what I do!!).
Today is a good example of this. I had to take my oldest daughter to a Girl Scout activity (where she earned a journey badge in a day). I dropped her off at 10am and then spent FIVE hours working in Panera on some notebook pages about hibernation… I loved it and learned a ton today (more about that in a sec.)
This (the pages below) is what you’ll never see… just lots and lots of notes from a half dozen books, online articles, and a science textbook that I lugged with me. In my head, I am organizing the material… deciding how I want to put it all together… what kinds of pages I want to make… This is a far cry from what will eventually be released out to the wider world! I’ve got the bare bones down, but then I’ll polish (and polish and polish) before releasing things to you.
Many of my packets have taken me months of intense work and research. My Ocean Packet, for example, took over 9 months of research and work behind the scenes! I reached out to several professionals (one was a scientist who studies bioluminescent creatures) to purchase images that I could not find in the public domain or in some of the regular stock photo sites where you can purchase images. I’ve been able to do that as this small little business has grown. With more sales, I have more money to invest back into the business and purchase better images.
So, not only do I spend a lot of time researching and putting together our material, I am *always* extremely careful about image copyrights. I always purchase the images I use or use images that are in the public domain.
Plus, I spend a lot of time taking photos of our hands-on activities to make things as clear as I can for you. I don’t say this to garner sympathy, but so you know a little more about my passion and love for the Homeschool Den… and for what I share with you!
And as many of you know, along the way I also update our materials and add in new types of activities and/or add in more information. I’ve added to the packets as my own kids have gotten older (and as we cover things again). For those of you who purchased from me several years ago, you have received updates and have seen these packets grow and expand through the years. This past year I was able to polish and add updates to many of our packets…
- the Simple Machines Packet
- the Earth Science Packet
- the World Facts Packet
- the Animal Packet
- the World Animal Packet
- the Cell Packet … just to name a few
I know I can always expand and improve my products and always welcome feedback to add to and improve my packets! (Hopefully you all know this!!) 🙂
I’ve also grown as an author and am able to do things now that I wasn’t several years ago. I’ve learned a lot along the way… and have added in new kinds of activities as I’ve learned what my kids enjoy and as I figured out (technically) how to do things.
And there have also been times when I’ve gotten help and input directly from many of my readers… the “Where I Live Packet” is a prime example of this! I had more than a dozen people sending me input and suggestions as I put that together!
As for the content, I do a LOT of research!! I borrow many books from the library and have shelves and shelves of books and textbooks (elementary, high school and college texts) that I refer to. If I can’t get the material I need from the library or what’s on hand, then I purchase new books to make sure I have the information I need to make these packets/notebook pages. Again, I see that as investing in the business and making sure my packets and notebook pages are as high quality as I can make them.
Clearly, I am what you’d lovingly call a book nerd. I love all the research that goes into things… and this really lights my fire! Just this evening at dinner I was excited to share this bit with the kids and Tony…
So let me set the scene… last week the kids and I talked about (animal) migration. This was the last part of our Magnetism Unit. I had done a lot of reading and research about the studies and experiments that have been published recently about animals being able to detect Earth’s magnetic field. For example, within the last five years scientists have discovered that not only do birds have a protein in their retina that is sensitive to earth’s magnetic field, but also it appears that there is something in their beaks as well that is magneto-sensitive. Cool, right?
Well, today when I was doing a bit of research about the predators (of animals which hibernate), I happened to read something fascinating about foxes. They appear to line themselves up (just off from true north) when they pounce. When they are aligned (either toward north or toward south) they catch their prey something like 65% of the time! When they are not lined up, they only catch prey 18% of the time. Scientists have not yet found how they sense the earth’s magnetic field… but they are trying to do some research to look into this further! (I told the kids at dinnertime that I remembered reading about that scientist have found some magneto-sensitive areas in mammalian brains…) It’s just so cool to uncover science that is still in its infancy! This is part of our homeschool life!
Anyway, all this is what gets me excited! I love doing the research and learning with the kids… and I love putting packets together. It makes me pretty sad… maybe horrified is a better word… to be accused of “stealing from people.”
I love what I do and this email sure made me feel defensive. Thanks for letting me get this off my heavy-hearted chest!
If you ever have any concerns, know that I am just an email away.
And before I sign off, let me say THANK YOU to the many readers who have dropped me lovely, fabulous, supportive, inspiring emails and messages along the way! Those lovely comments and amazing messages are what I will hold close to my heart in the long run!
P.S. It’s just me running the homeschoolden.com. No big team — except my amazing kids (who help edit these notebook pages as they get made!!) and my amazing and supportive Hubby! Many of you probably know that from my summer-time apology post —Homeschool Confessional – Apologies – Construction, etc! about how I know there are a lot of technical things that I’m not able to do here on the blog just simply because I don’t have time. Maybe someday, but at the moment the kids and homeschooling and having a amazing family life are the top priorities (thus the apology when things on the blog could be better).
P.P.S. Just because of the nature of this particular post, let me show you who I am again! 🙂