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PhD in Parenting 2010 Commenting Awards

2010 Canadian Weblog AwardsThere are a lot of blog awards out there. A lot of them are popularity contests, rewarding those who can get a lot of their friends to click on a "vote" button within a specific time period. But some are different. In 2010, we had the first ever juried Canadian Weblog Awards. I am honoured to have been awarded first place in the Feminist category. There are many, many other great Canadian blogs that were honoured too. A lot of them from the Ottawa area (like me!) and other great ones from across the country too. If you are looking for some great blogs to read, definitely check out the list of winners.

While blog writers are obviously important to blogging, most bloggers know that quality and consistent commenters are what really sets a blog apart. I am lucky to have a wonderful community of regular commenters who do so much to encourage me, to expand my knowledge of the topics that I write about, and to challenge me to look at things from different angles. In this post, I want to honour some of my most prolific commenters of 2010 by profiling them in this post. Some of them are bloggers (and I would encourage you to check out their blogs too) and others are not (but they really should be...). Please join me in celebrating the contributions of these wonderful commenters to this community over the past year.


Amber (@AmberStrocel), who blogs at Strocel.com and who has launched a 12 week course about living with intention called Crafting my Life (first course begins January 15), left an impressive 108 comments in 2010. Amber tends to comment on every post of substance and always leaves a well considered and insightful comment. She doesn't often get engaged in involved controversial back and forth discussions in the comments, as her comments are generally so balanced and well considered that she rarely upsets anyone else.

Amber left a lot of great comments in 2010, but to give you an idea of why she is such a great person to be leading a Crafting my Life course, check out her comment on my post Grin and bear it: Parenting, happiness and the pressure cooker. She wrote:
I do try to take charge of my own happiness. I’m not sure how good I am at it, but I don’t think that putting a lot of pressure on myself to do this is productive. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. I would say that I am happy.

I would also say that as my kids get older I feel more keenly how FLEETING this all is. I am far less concerned about ‘me time’ with my second than I was with my first. I know that he will grow quickly (too quickly) and I will sort of miss having him around all the time. That doesn’t mean that I never go out, but it does mean that I don’t chafe as much if I don’t. I’ve adjusted my lifestyle to small children, I’m cool with it, and I know this is temporary. Which is the key – CHOOSING to spend a lot of time with your kids is fine. But having it imposed on you is not so OK.

I feel the same way about the same ‘shackles’ that Margaret Wendte talks about in that quote. I hang my cloth diapers to dry. I breastfeed. I don’t buy pre-packaged baby foods and I try to cook from scratch. I knit and sew and garden, and I am not currently employed in a job that requires me to be away from my kids. I chose this, freely, and with other good options available to me. And I don’t regard it as oppression. For me, spending my days in a grey cubicle by myself and working was more oppressive. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Just as there would be nothing wrong with running from my home to the grey cubicle for some peace.

Here’s the thing – there is no single model for happiness and no single model for fulfillment. I am currently rejecting the model of a successful woman that I was raised with – supermom with a full-time job who still manages to make it to the soccer game and go to aerobics three times a week. That model didn’t work for me, but this one does. At least right now. So Margaret Wendte can take a flying leap when she suggests that I’m oppressing myself or relegating myself to unhappiness.

It is rare for me to come across a blog post that I want to comment on where Amber hasn't already commented before. I know that she isn't just a regular commenter on my blog, but on many others too.  The encouragement that Amber gives to bloggers and the well thought out comments that she leaves across the blogosphere make her an extremely valuable member of the blogging community.


Amazingly, Andrea managed to leave almost as many comments as Amber, but left all of them in the first seven months of the year. Andrea has been busy and hasn't had a chance to comment on the blog since July (we miss you Andrea!), but she managed to leave a whopping 87 comments before the end of July, making a significant mark on the blog during the first half of the year.

Back in March, Andrea responded to my post called All I think about is princesses. She wrote:
I don’t know. I mean, I get that the Disney marketting is over the top. But is it really so awful if little girls are “into” princess things? Doesn’t trying to discourage it send the message that “girly things” ARE bad/less valuable? Could Disney show more balance? Sure, but they are in the business of making money, and apparently, princesses sell. I’m more disturbed by the fact that there seems to be no “kids” movie out there without something really scary or violent in it.

All I know is that as a child, before all the movies and videos and the Disney Store, I wanted to wear a dress every single day of grade one. Even if I had to stuff the skirt into snow pants. The twirlier, the better. I spent hours drawing princesses in beautiful ball gowns (for me, the best part of being a princess!) I would have loved all the dress up stuff out there today :P

But I got over it, I now consider myself a strong, feminist, mother and career woman in a healthy, equal relationship with my DH. I am raising two boys to be feminist as well. Don’t get me wrong, I still like “pretty” things, but I’d describe myself as low-maintenance, nary a bow or tulle in my closet (not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

I definitely think it’s important to be critical and to monitor what our kids are exposed to, but at the same time, what they like at 3 doesn’t necessarily reflect who they are going to grow up to be. I’d like to think that overall, parenting is going to have more impact than that. Otherwise, my sons might grow up to be sword-toting knights…

Interestingly, my boys (particularly the older one) have seen a number of “princess” movies (my old VHS tapes) — they like them for the comedy: the mice in Cinderella, the seven dwarfs, Sebastien the crab…And to be honest, probably the coolest thing about Rapunzel to my 5 year old IS the thorn thing :P

One of the great things about Andrea's comments is that she often replies to other people's comments on my blog, not only responding to what I have written, but also keeping the conversation going by engaging other readers too.


Kayris (@MDMommy2Two) blogs at The Great Walls of Baltimore and she left 73 comments in 2010.

In response to my post called Are these your kids' heroes? Olympians, sponsorship, McDonald's and more, she wrote:
I’d much rather my kids emulate an Olympic athlete than some of the other less than stellar celebrities out there. Even if they sometimes eat at McDonalds. And as Scotty Lago and Michael Phelps have shown us, they aren’t perfect. Sometimes they do really dumb stuff.

I’m in the USA, but sometimes I feel like the advertising never stops. It’s the Chick-Fil-A half time show at the Super Bowl. The stadium in my city is named, not for one of the best football players ever, Johnny Unitas, but after a bank because they coughed up the most amount of money. Sometimes I feel seriously annoyed at how much everything is about money.

However, having accepted that advertising is not going to go away, I have started to use it as a tool to teach to weigh their options and make good choices. Michael Phelps does ads for Subway and Joe Flacco for Pizza Hut, but Mike and Joe didn’t get where they are by eating only Subway and Pizza Hut. I hope that by teaching them that McDonalds isn’t health food just because the US Olympic team says so, they’ll be able to turn that into questioning the motives of the most popular girl at school, etc.

While Kayris doesn't comment on every post I write, she does tend to get involved in deeper discussions on the posts that interest (or anger) her the most. That type of in-depth engagement adds a lot to a blog and keeps me on my toes.  She was involved in in-depth discussions on posts on protecting your social capital, school vs. homeschoolingreporting marketing of breastmilk substitutes, calling out a mom who didn't buckle her child into a car seat, reproductive rights, and more.


Candace (@candaceapril) is a long-time blogger who blogs at Naturally Educational, Mamanista (review blog), and several other places. She is also the co-founder of Bloganthropy, an organization that aims to combine the power of social media with the resources of corporate giving.

In 2010, Candace left 66 comments on my blog. I have a very old post called Cry it Out: 10 reasons why it is not for us that still gets a lot of attention and comments. Candace has been a consistent commenter on the threads on that post for a long time. In November, she replied to a commenter who was advocating for the necessity of "CIO within reason"  by saying:
Every single version of CIO involves leaving a baby to cry, alone, for a specified interval, whether that interval starts at 5 minutes and increases by 5 minutes each night or is until the child collapses and falls asleep. If you are not leaving your child to cry alone, you are not “crying” “it” “out”.

It is in the very title of the method.

On the other hand, attachment parenting is NOT permissive parenting or helicopter parenting or anything like that. It is being responsive to and respectful of a child’s developmentally appropriate needs to build a healthy attachment.

No one building a healthy attachment suddenly changes their parenting around completely at a specified date…we don’t wait to teach children ways to soothe until they are four. What we do is gradually introduce, model, and help a child learn these ways from the start. In the beginning, babies need their parents for everything but eventually they learn object permanence and know you are nearby, they learn to sing to themselves, they grow attached to special plush animals, or can ” read” books to help themselves fall asleep… all techniques learned from their parents.

Of course babies cry, some more than others…attachment parenting doesn’t seek to end all tears, it seeks to nurture strength and independence through guidance and love. And it means that if a child cries, the parent is there to help guide the child.

Like Kayris, Candace likes to get involved in in-depth discussions on the blog. She has been very engaged on topics like parent-blame authors, religion, high-fructose corn syrup bloggers, epidurals and more.


Marcy (@mightymarce) blogs at Life is Good. She recently gave birth to her second child and I am living those cuddly little newborn days vicariously through her blog and pictures.

She left 66 comments in 2010. She left this insightful comment on my post Does breastfeeding hurt? If it is painful, is something wrong?:
One of the most helpful things for me was when I was late into my pregnancy and had joined and mom and baby group, and all the mothers told me how the first 2 months of breastfeeding are pretty much horrible, but that it gets so much better after that. They gave me the advice to promise to stick with it for 2 months (at least), and only after that even consider giving up if it still was going very badly.

Then when D was born and I was experiencing pain, I rounded up the emails of every mom I knew who breastfed and asked them what their experience had been, if it had hurt for them, for how long, and asking them for advice. Almost every one replied about how it hurt for them for the first 2-3 months, then got much easier after that. And that is basically how it went for us, as well.

I was SO glad to have that information, because it prepared me. It let me know that it was NORMAL to have some pain. Of course, I did whatever I could to check his latch and try to make sure we didn’t have any problems that were causing the pain, and Jack Newman’s videos were priceless in helping me at that time. But, I really do think that for most breastfeeding moms it is going to hurt for a few weeks at least, and that is not necessarily a sign of a problem. If all I’d ever heard was that breastfeeding only hurt when you’re “doing it wrong”, I don’t know if I would have kept at it.

I love Dr Newman, his videos were lifesavers for me, but honestly I have a very hard time listening to a man who has never breastfed tell me it should only feel a little sore for a few days. It seems very strange to me to really think that such a delicate and sensitive part of your body would suddenly be sucked on 8-12 times a day and that this sudden change wouldn’t cause some serious discomfort for a while.

Marcy's comments are always so insightful and often focus on the "been there, done that" of her own parenting experience. Other readers gain so much from reading what other people have gone through and I appreciate Marcy taking the time to share her journey.

Everyone Else

Many thanks to everyone who stopped to leave a comment in 2010, whether it was one comment or many, I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts on things that were important to you. Knowing that the things I write here spark your interest is extremely important to me and I gain so much from the insight that my readers bring.

Some of the other frequent commenters in 2010 included Olivia, ebbandflo aka pomomama, kelly @ kellynaturally, Rebecca, Upstatemomof3, Fearless Formula Feeder, Melodie from Breastfeeding Moms Unite, Paige, Stephanie from Home with the Kids, Bettina from Best for Babes, radmama, Lauren, Alina, Jake Aryeh Marcus from Sustainable Mothering, and Maman a Droit.

This is what you all had to say in 2010:

I'm looking forward to all of your insightful comments in 2011. Thank you for being a part of my community.
« Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta | Main | What interested you and riled you up in 2010 »

Reader Comments (35)

I love this! I learn as much from the comments as I do from your posts. I need to step up my game to deserve to be in their (and your) company.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShannon Drury

So... is it weird to comment on the comment post? ;)
I too am grateful for my commenters; surely far fewer than yours, but its inspiring to know that people are reading, listening, thinking, so much so that they are willing to take a moment to share their thoughts.
I've been introduced to great blogs through your blog, Annie, so thank you. (and thank you for mentioning me as well).

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelly @kellynaturally

Of course it isn't weird to comment on the comment post! Thank you for all of your contributions here Kelly.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting


I appreciate all of the comments that I get and appreciate the time you take to share your thoughts, whether it is every day or just every once in a while.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I love that my first comment is on this post celebrating participation, thoughtfulness and community.

It is incredible to feel heard or noticed, a gal could warm herself from the warm fuzzies here.

I am leaving this post with a smile and a renewed intention to hear and notice more often.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Thanks for commenting Amanda! I look forward to hearing more from you.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Aw, Annie, I'm feeling the love. Thank you so much for this. :)

And I hope you know that I comment so often because your posts are imminently worthy of commenting on.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

I have a folder for my blog email called "Outside blog comments", and it consists of approximately 90% comments from PhD in Parenting posts I've commented on. Partly, that's because I am so miserably bad at commenting, and about half of my comments on all not-my blogs are on here, but also speaks to the quantity and quality of the comments on your blog. ("Quality" because people engage in real conversations here, with much back-and-forth of ideas, which 1. is fabulous, and 2. fills up an inbox right quick.)

Also, I want to second the award for Amber in particular. I think she single-handedly is responsible for more community-building and support than anyone else in the history of blogging or social media, at least in the communities I'm a part of. I'll "discover" a new-to-me blog, only to find out that Amber has already been there and left a long, thoughtful comment. One day at some blogging conference somewhere (probably in Canada...), I'm going to throw a party/have an awards ceremony in her honor. There will be a five-minute standing ovation, only because none of us will want to stop cheering for her.

Finally, I adore that "think" is the most-used word. That pretty much sums this blog up.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArwyn

Love that you have a post recgonizing and appreciating the comments left on your blog, I'll never look at comments the same again! Congrats to all the Commenting Award winners, very well-deserved.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Great idea!!! Love the Commenting Awards!

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertricia mumby

Ack! I haven't popped in fopr awhile because the holidays had me stressed and I was making an effort to avoid controversy. And then I come back and see my name! What a surprise. Thanks for the mention.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKayris


I love that making an effort to avoid controversy means avoiding my blog! :) I think I was probably pretty tame in December. Except maybe Lysol twitter parties and "parent blame" authors.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Now this is a post that is worth a comment. :-) Great idea Annie.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCapital Mom

LOL, you know you tend to write about subjects that make people twitchy. And even if I do agree with YOU, there's frequently some other commenter who makes my blood boil. However, I'm easing back into running after knee surgery 8 weeks ago and maybe I need something to get me fired up. It helps propel me that last bit when I'm running out of gas.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKayris

I love this post! I've been working on taking more time to comment on blogs posts that really make me think. Hopefully in 2011 I'll have something to add to the already great conversations that are always happening here.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCasey

I have to agree with Arwyn - I love that "think" is so used here, too! And Amber is great, I always look for her comments. You have built a great community, Annie.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I loved that "think" was so prominent too and I think (ha!) that is why I chose the Wordle image that made it so prominent (sticking out the top) versus others where it was the biggest, but just mixed in with the others.

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Well of course Arwyn was already here to say everything I was thinking*. ;) You have some amazing commenters to go with the very insightful posts you write. Community building should be a theme for 2011!

(*Except the blog comment folder for the email. What a great idea!)

January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrenna

This is a great community to be a part of. Annie - you do a fabulous job engaging people, asking questions and encouraging the conversations. It is essential if we are all to learn something new.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Awesome post! I am so so so glad I found your blog in 2010, and through it am finding other fantastic blogs, many Canadian, every day! I comment far more than I blog, and rarely have insightful or lengthy comments, but just the act of commenting makes me feel like I am part of the blogging community.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentereva

I adore your blog! I will be honest, sometimes I feel intimidated by the caliber of the comments and think my lowly words aren't necessary. But I know you like comments and your blog makes me think so much, sometimes I can't help but comment... commenting is the "closure" step which helps me process the topics you've unearthed.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlina

This is a very nice way to give back to your commenters.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Thanks Jack.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Thank you Alina! I appreciate all of the comments that you leave here.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting


Thank you for your comment and for being part of my community.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Thanks Leslie!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Hi there, I thought I would check yuou out PhD as you are on the wikio UK parenting blog top 10 above me and I hadn't come across you. What an impressive blog. Intelliigent. I like it. I am loving your comments awards and the ones you have picked are rather good! A thoughtful comment often makes me very happy. I'll be back to see you again. Do pop over the big pond when you get a chance to say hello I blog mainly about living frugally and creatively with under fives but I am an author too I wrote How to afford timeoff with your baby (Vermilion 09). Nice to say hello x


January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

Annie, what a sweet idea! I hope to find more time to commend on your fabulous blog in 2011 :) Reading your blog makes me want to write more meaty posts.


Andrea is an in-real-life friend of mine; it's great to see her comments recognized. She's one insightful, balanced mama and I'm proud to know her :)

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

Aww, thanks J! And for the alert to come read this! Clearly I had more time on my hands earlier this year (I'm not currently in front of a computer 8 hours a day)...But, I still love this blog when I get a spare minute.

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Ironically, it has taken me a while to get around to commenting (sick, deadlines, enjoying the snow).

One of the reasons I enjoy being a part of the community you have created here is that, while you have very strong opinions on issues, all you ever really ask is that people think and consider the possibilities.

Thank you for not only posting cogently on so many topics about which we agree but also for welcoming any thinking opposition.

What a great idea for a post! Thanks for the shout-out. :)

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJake Aryeh Marcus

What a wonderful idea, Annie! Like you, I treasure every single comment that comes in. The comments on my posts encourage me to think, to learn, and to become a better person.

The blogosphere is a dynamic place, isn't it?

January 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I realize this is a little late but just wanted to say YES! Amber is an inspiration to all mothers and mom bloggers. Not sure I would have kept going if it weren't for commenting on every post I wrote. I'm taking her Crafting Your Life course right now and it's fantastic - thoughtful, encouraging, wise, all of that good stuff.

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterharrietglynn

Aw, Harriet, thank you!

And we'll be hearing an interview from Annie as part of the Crafting my Life class in a few weeks. She rocked it. So, you know, we're all feeling the love. :)

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

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