Workiversary

Seven years ago this week was my first day at my job.

I remember what I wore that day – grey dress pants, a green sweater, flats. I remember the anxious feeling of walking into that old business park building and not being sure exactly what I would be doing or how it would all go. I had only lived in Cleveland for a few days when I started and everything was new. Andy and I were dating not long distance for the first time and I was worried that he’d realize I was a weirdo and break up with me once we spent so much consistent time together.

By my one year “workiversary”, he realized I was a weirdo he wanted to be weird with together forever and put a ring on it.

Year two, we were married. I had a new name and we had a new office building. We moved out of that cramped business park where I was sharing an “office” that was literally a closet with two other people and into our newly built campus.

My third year workiversary came shortly after we got the keys for our house. Our puppy was 9 months old and a bucket of trouble.

Year 4… hmmm, what happened in 2014? I went on a lot of great trips that year! D.C. to celebrate the best friend turning 30; NYC with my girls to check out the Central Perk pop-up; the middle of nowhere beauty of no cell service Pocahontas, West Virginia for work.

The next year, I was pregnant and building out a plan for who would cover my work when I was gone.

Last year was my son’s first everything.

And now we come face to face with year seven. What will this year bring? I am excited to see what happens at work and in life between now and my next workiversary. In the meantime, I’ve got this dude to chase around. Can’t believe he turns two in less than 3 months.

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When you realize it’s been over a year since your last blog post…

Time is crazy, guys. 2017 is almost over. My son turns 2 in 3 months. Look at this handsome lil Peter Pan!

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I haven’t written anything in this blog since September of last year. How?! Where has the time gone? Maybe it’s because I’ve been incredibly busy at my day job and just as busy at the all the time business of being a mama of a toddler. I’m exhausted most of the time. That’s the default.

F11ED0CC-60D5-4518-B077-65DFE7BE9A0F-2393-000002708F4F1E6D.gifThat being said, I’ve missed writing and remembered this blog exists and ta-da! Here I am. Sleepy eyes and all.

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Actually… I have to do dishes. So, all of this to say – I’ll check back in soon.

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Three things I wish I had done during my pregnancy

Continuing my countdown theme for my pregnancy related posts (see: Five things I’m glad I did during my pregnancy and Four things that helped me survive pregnancy), here are three things I wish I had done during my pregnancy … and maybe will once it comes time to start cooking baby #2 someday.

  1. Known what questions to even ask

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I found the classes we took at the hospital very helpful (and listed them as one of the things I’m really glad I did when I was pregnant.) That being said, during the time for “any questions from the class?” – I had no idea what to even ask because I didn’t know what to expect. Some things I didn’t think of at all and some I assumed would be easy or intuitive since they weren’t mentioned… Here is just a short list of things I wish I would have asked or they would have had the foresight to talk about in my classes:

  • How to express colostrum. During the week of breastfeeding classes, I mentioned to the instructor that I had been ‘leaking’ a little bit here and there for weeks. She said that was a great sign and that I should have no trouble with milk letdown or production. She made a comment in passing about how I could even start saving it now but I didn’t really know what she meant or what follow up questions to ask about how to do that so I let it go and wrote it off, thinking, “Well, it’s such a miniscule amount that is leaking, what good is that?” Plus, I was 6 weeks away from my due date and that felt like a lifetime at that point. I thought I had time.

If I had known that I could express that colostrum by hand, freeze it and save it for those early days when the kiddo was still trying to figure out how to latch on and I was exhausted and couldn’t find a comfortable nursing position and I was constantly nervous he wasn’t getting enough – it would have been nice to have that as a back up. I’ve read that there is some concern about doing this as apparently, nipple stimulation can induce labor (huh) but considering that there are many pregnant moms out there who are still nursing during their pregnancy, I think it would probably be fine. I at least should have thought more about it and had the conversations with my doctor and the breastfeeding class instructor.

  • How to operate a breast pump. It would have been helpful to see a little demo video of how to assemble and operate a pump, as I didn’t get my pump until about a week after Peter was born and had a mini meltdown feeling overwhelmed looking at the parts and the manual, cried, and decided I was doomed to ages of hand cramps from the manual pump until my husband pieced it together for me and showed me how everything worked according to the instruction book. #HesTheBest

In the hospital, a lactation consultant (two, actually) came to talk to me and one brought their super duty hospital grade pump with her so I had that experience but it was a different make and model than the one I got through my insurance. I don’t know, we figured it out but it would have been nice to feel a little more prepared about the whole thing since it’s a part of my routine now and I haul this thing with me to work every. single. day.

  • Baby wearing/carrying. Maybe this is just me but man, you see moms walking around wearing their kids in wraps and slings and carriers and it just seems so effortless, right? I was given a variety of these devices and I had the hardest time figuring them all out! I feel like I still have never quite gotten the hang of it. Maybe it’s my chest, weight, baby’s size – I don’t know. I only used the baby wrap twice, around the house. Never in public. I used the front wearing carrier once out in public and he lasted all of 10 minutes in there before he started crying, I was sweating and we were both uncomfortable and unhappy.

The answer here might just be that it’s not for everyone but it would have been nice if they had spent some time with the baby dolls showing us how to tie the wraps and take babies in and out and tackling practical questions like, If you want to wear the baby around after you drive somewhere, do you tie the wrap around you at home and then get in the car? Or do you take it with you and do the whole miles of fabric intricate wrapping of yourself once you arrive while your baby just waits for you to get through this ritual?

I guess if I had joined a ‘mommy group’ or something, these kinds of questions would be answered but the idea of doing that made my anxiety levels shoot through the roof. I’m an introvert and my own biggest judge and especially during the first few months, I was often very hard on myself and worried that others would be too. Even if no one else is judging me, I look at what they’re doing that I’m not and on my worst days, I think, “She’s obviously so much better at this motherhood thing than I am. She must think I am horrible for XYZ.” I think I also feared going in with a problem to a group like that and having them, probably kindly, offering solutions and me going on the defense as a coping mechanism – “Have you tried…?” “YES, OF COURSE I DID THAT ALREADY, IT DIDN’T WORK!” – which, you know, isn’t the most friendly way to approach things and would just make me feel bad about myself. So. Anyway. I guess this bullet point is … trying to be more aware of questions to ask during pregnancy beyond just the labor and delivery of it all.

2. Perineal massage

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I’m sorry to even mention it but it’s true. Wish I had at least given it a shot. I put it off and I put it off and I put it off and then it was too late. But ouch, guys. And that perineal massage might have helped. I’ve heard it is supposed to. I should have sucked it up and just tried it. They gave us a worksheet and everything and I just filed that thing away and thought, “I’ll get to that later” and then later never happened.

3. Exercise

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I mean, I didn’t really exercise before I got pregnant either and should have. But I’ve heard that exercising helps increase your flexibility for the last few weeks where it’s hard to bend over or get up from a seated position. Even now, I am sore all the time and wish I had more upper body strength for carrying my lovable sack of potatoes baby around everywhere and I think exercise during pregnancy could have helped. Honestly, this kid is 20 lbs of love and I swear I have done something to my back trying to pick him up, set him down and carry him all over the place (in my arms, mostly, because as mentioned above, I have really struggled with baby wearing apparatuses.)

~Maybe eventually I’ll write more about pregnancy or new mom stuff… life is busy 🙂 We’ll see. 

Four things that helped me survive pregnancy

Last week, I posted about the 5 things I’m glad I did during pregnancy. While I’m still in reflective mode looking back on my pregnancy, I thought I’d keep going and write about some of the things that helped me survive some of the rougher portions of my pregnancy.

Yes, it’s a miracle and awesome and I will gladly do it again but damn, it’s hard. Your whole body changes in ways that I can’t even describe. There’s a whole list of rules and things that happen that I had no clue about before I got pregnant. Sure, I knew about no drinking, no sushi, whatever but – No cold lunch meat?! I can’t sleep on my back?! Random aches and pains that aren’t contractions but sure feel like them that go on for months? Cool.

 

Here’s what helped me get through some of the less wonderful parts of growing a human.

1. Trader Joe’s Gingermints

My first sign that I was pregnant was a sore back and sore boobs. I wrote the sore back off to the two vacations I had just been on, including ATX Festival, which was a lot of line standing. The sore boobs thing was new, though. That is not a normal part of my cycle. When I was late, I took a test the next morning and ta-da! Baby.

I had “morning” sickness off and on from about week 8-20 of my pregnancy. It wasn’t every day. Sometimes it was just a wave of nausea and not wanting to eat much of anything. Sometimes it was multiple trips to puke in the stalls at work. The worst times were always when I was away from home and couldn’t just curl up in pajamas and cuddle the puppy. On a trip to DC to visit my best friend, I got sick in the airport bathroom, at her apartment and out to dinner with her boyfriend. At my work’s conference that I helped plan and needed to be ‘on’ for 24/7, puking at the convention center the morning after a big party and having attendees think I had partied too much the night before. The list goes on.

I mean, what I’m saying is, I was basically Princess Kate. #flawless

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No, honestly, I didn’t have it that bad. Near the end, my doctor gave me some medicine that helped quite a bit and by midway through my pregnancy, I felt much better.

But during that period of generally just not feeling well, I lived on Trader Joe’s Gingermints. They helped settle my stomach if I was feeling a little queasy and I always carried them in my purse. Not a cure and maybe just a placebo effect but a big thumbs up from me.

2. Snoogle Mini body pillow

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My preferred sleep position is what I would describe best as a chalk outline of a dead body. Face down, arms and legs akimbo.

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Hard to do that with a growing belly. I decided it would be best then to just flop down on my back but everything I read told me not to do that either. Sleep on your side, they said. It’s best for you and the baby, they said.

It is hard learning how to sleep comfortably on your side if you’ve never slept like that before! Especially when your whole body feels weird, your center of gravity is off and you have to contend with constantly needing to get up and pee. I tried sticking a pillow between my knees but it wasn’t cutting it. I saw a friend that was also pregnant comment about how sleep was difficult and someone mentioned that she needed to buy a Snoogle.

A what now?

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Apparently these pillows are very popular with pregnant ladies and they are massive U-shaped body pillows. If you’ve seen the J-Lo “classic” The Back-Up Plan, basically that pillow. If you haven’t, here’s a visual:

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Those just seemed way too big for me – and crazy expensive, too. I’m too cheap to drop $60 on a pillow, guys. But then I found the Mini-Snoogle.

It really helped the weird body aches and keeping me on my side when I slept. It was the right size for me, since I used my regular pillows for my head. And it’s great because we can still use it now with Mr. Baby. We curl it up like a little donut and pop him in the middle to hang out.

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Hi, buddy. 🙂 

3. Nightgowns

I loved nightgowns when I was young but when I hit puberty, the trend became pajama pants and wearing scrubs as pajamas. With my mom working at a hospital, I had access to steal scrubs she would wear home and from then on, I wore blue hospital scrub pants and t-shirts to bed, along with an array of Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and other character printed pj pants that I bought at Media Play with my employee discount. As I got to college, I started mixing in oversized basketball shorts and miscelleanous sweatpants, yoga pants and other lounge wear.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant that I rediscovered the beauty of nightgowns. An oversized sleep shirt is such a joy. I went on the hunt for this because I hated the feeling of pressure against my pregnant stomach, especially at night, and I was feeling overheated and needed something airy.

My favorite nightgowns:

Blue stripes. Less than $20 from Target (no longer for sale but this one is similar.)

Bump. #surprise! #theresababyinthere #comingfebruary2016 👶🏻❤️🎉

A post shared by melissa marin (@_melissa_marin) on

My 2nd favorite nightgown was this sleep shirt from Old Navy.

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It’s button down, which has proved to be really helpful for nursing now that the baby is here. Here’s one of the many, many times I wore this nightgown during my maternity leave and the lovely aftermath of a spit-up attack.

Neither of those are maternity sized – I just bought them a size larger than I normally wear and they worked out great for me.

4. Milkshakes

I mean, not the healthiest choice but it was probably my biggest craving throughout my pregnancy and man, did a chocolate milkshake always hit just the right spot.

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Props to this handsome guy for going out and fetching me milkshakes on the regular and for being a really awesome dad to our squish faced baby boy.

Coming soon: What I wish I had done during my pregnancy & new mom lessons learned.

Five things I’m glad I did during my pregnancy

So, I’m a mom now, guys. Mr. Baby has made it through 5 months of life all in one piece so that officially makes me a parenting expert now, right?

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Jokes! I often feel like I have no idea what I’m doing!

I have two mottos/mantras for myself as a mom:

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Inspired by Amy Poehler’s book, “Yes Please”. 
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I don’t know the original source but I saw this on Instagram & I now repeat this to myself constantly.

That being said, I wanted to write out while it was still somewhat fresh some reflections about my pregnancy. This isn’t an advice column. This isn’t implying that what was right for me is right for anyone else. But I know that I might forget all of this if I don’t write it down so … here it goes.

Five things I’m glad I did during my pregnancy

  1. Take classes at the hospital – Classes helped me feel a lot less anxious. First of all, even if you don’t take classes (which did cost money but I felt was worth the investment), I do highly recommend a hospital tour. Ours offered a free walk through of the labor and delivery floor and calmed my nerves a lot. The nurse even told us exactly where we should park and what doors to enter through so my weird panic nightmares of wandering a hospital with no idea of where to go and no one around to help me subsided.

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The baby classes we took were called Lamaze Plus, which was four weeks of lamaze and information about the actual labor part of things; one week of baby care; one week of breastfeeding.

Important things I took away from those 6 weeks:

  • What signs to look for that labor is starting
  • Your water breaking is not like it is in the movies
  • What kinds of things would be important to me in a birth plan
  • The fact that a birth plan is just that – a plan! If things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you failed if you wanted to try a natural birth and end up needing an epidural or a C-section. The goal is to do whatever you have to do to get a heathy baby out of you!
  • Breathing techniques
  • How to swaddle a baby
  • Breastfeeding is natural but not always easy
  • Breast milk storage guidelines (we got a helpful print out)

I think another important factor was that Andy was there with me. He learned a lot but I think it also helped prepare him for being in the delivery room with me. His stance early in my pregnancy was that he didn’t want to see anything that was going on and being kind of skeeved out by the idea of labor. But after the classes and once the day came, he was right there, helping to hold my legs as I pushed and watching our son’s head crown.

2. Pinterest research – Listen. I know that Pinterest can be a place that can make you feel like a horrible person because you aren’t, like, making your own homemade organic toilet paper. But it did help me and might help you if you know that you have to sift through some of the crazy to find the gold. Here’s what I found most helpful from my pregnancy Pinteresting:

  • Suggestions on what to register for and what to skip. Sure, some of those posts are for the kind of rich ladies who can drop bank on thousand dollar prams or are sponsored for Dr. So and So’s Booger Rags or whatever but if you click through enough of those, especially some from sites like The Bump and not just “mommy blogs”, you’ll get a good idea of what’s standard and what you might not need.
  • What to pack in the hospital bag. I wayyyy overpacked but it gave me peace of mind to pack those bags in the weeks leading up to my delivery.
  • Reading up about what to expect postpartum was eye-opening. Like, that is something I had NO clue about before I got pregnant and wowza. It might freak some people out but it helped me prep psychologically for everything that was going to happen physically.

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  • Super prepared mamas on Pinterest inspired me to create a “labor action plan” for scenarios like the following, copied from the actual document I typed up for myself and husband:

If I’m at work when my water breaks or contractions get serious: 1) Call Andy. 2) Try to note COAT (color, odor, amount and time) re: water breaking and/or start timing contractions. 3) Notify manager I’m leaving. 4) If able, drive myself home. If unable, ask available co-worker to drive me home.

My plan included the work scenario, “If I’m home and Andy’s not home”; “What to do once we’re both home and things look serious” and then steps for my husband: Driving to and parking at the hospital; Check-in & what paperwork we might need; Contacting family members to let them know I’m in labor and to go take care of our dog; what to bring in from the car and what to leave in the car; and to say things like this to me to get me through it:

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3. Stockpile shopping – Another idea I got from Pinterest and I’m so glad I did. Stocking up for both the baby and for things for our house helped satiate that nesting instinct that they say kicks in at the end but I feel like I had during my entire pregnancy.

For Mr. Baby, I started buying diapers and wipes pretty regularly on shopping trips, starting in my 2nd trimester. I only bought when I had coupons or there was a sale (Cartwheel FTW, I love Target) so I didn’t feel like I was breaking the bank. I had no clue what brand we would like best so I bought Pampers, Huggies, Seventh Generation, Babyganics, Target brand, Babies R Us brand, and Luvs. I used this post I found on Pinterest as a rough rule of thumb re: pricing and how many diapers we would need and had a good supply of Newborn and Size 1 diapers and a large basket full of wipes by the time he was born. Mind you, he was a 9 lb 3 oz baby so we could have jumped right to size 1 diapers (many people on the internet suggest not buying Newborn size at all for this reason) but even though he was a big baby, the size 1 seemed huge on him at first and newborn worked for us for the first month. We only had to go out and buy diapers maybe … twice… during my maternity leave. With my shopping and what we received from showers, we were set until he moved into size 2 diapers.

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I wouldn’t have thought to do this if it weren’t for Pinterest but having household goods fully stocked was a lifesaver. First, I knew that I was not going to want to leave the house in the dead of winter with a newborn. Second, I knew that I wanted Andy to get home from work ASAP and not spend time out doing needless shopping and away from us. So, I decided to fill our closets and pantry with:

  • Mega rolls of toilet paper and paper towels
  • Multipacks of tissues
  • Bottles of hand sanitizer for every stinking room in the house
  • Gallon jug of hand soap
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Laundry detergent
  • Trash bags
  • Slow cooker liners
  • Toothpaste
  • Dog food
  • Pretzels and other snacks that wouldn’t go bad right away
  • Cleaning supplies (many of which we found at the Dollar Tree – great resource for this kind of stockpile shopping)

4. Freezer stocking – I was lucky enough to have a friend organize a girls’ night at my house where they prepared freezer crockpot meals for us and this was AWESOME. While we didn’t eat them all the time and not every recipe was a winner, it was such a relief to know that they were always there if we needed something because God knows, I was not in the mood to cook during the last few weeks of pregnancy and the majority of my maternity leave. Plus, a few turned out great – Lemon Pepper Chicken, Mini Stuffed Peppers and Chicken Tacos were our favorites.

5. SLEEP – People would ask how I was feeling during my pregnancy and I would often respond, “I’m tired” and the parents in the group would always say, “Oh, just you wait.” Man. They were right. Newborn baby tired is a whole new level of tired. I’m so glad that I took the time to just be lazy and sleep in and go to bed early and relax while I could because I’ve been operating on chunks of sleep, ranging from 30 minutes to maybe 6 hours max, for the past 5 months.

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Me, most days.
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Worth it for this dude. Love you, little man.

Coming soon: What I wish I had done during my pregnancy & what helped me get through morning sickness and other pregnancy ailments.

Where you line up, I will follow: ATX TV Fest 2015 (Part 3)

Part 1 recap here || Part 2 recap here

Sunday

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The last day of the fest, we went to the live Dawson’s Creek script reading. The cast was a surprise and there were rumors that actual DC cast members might be in attendance… I doubted that would actually happen. In line, we speculated about who might be reading what parts and I guessed that the festival would pull in favorites like Mae Whitman (Parenthood), Nick Wechsler (Revenge), and Matt Lauria (Friday Night Lights). 

It turns out, we were all partially right. There was a cast member on hand – Kerr Smith, who joined the cast in Season 2 as Jack, participated in the reading. Mae and Nick both were on the panel but instead of Matt Lauria from FNL, they brought in Grandma Saracen, Riggins brother and Tyra’s sister.

We ended up in the front row – amazing – and it was one of my favorite events of the weekend. They gender-flipped the four main characters so Mae Whitman was Dawson Leery and Kerr Smith played Jen (so perfect!). Here’s the full cast and a few pictures:

Mae Whitman as Dawson; Suits‘ Patrick J. Adams as Joey; Rectify‘s Abigail Spencer as Pacey; Dawson’s Creek co-star Kerr Smith — who played Jack — stepping into the role of his former character’s best friend, Jen; Friday Night Lights alum Louanne Stephens as Grams; Derek Phillips as Mitch Leery and Stacey Oristano as Gail Leery; as well as Gilmore Girls’ Arielle Kebbelas Tamara; Orphan Black’s Kristian Bruun as Bessie and Nellie and Revenge‘s Nick Wechsler as Bodie and Mr. Gold. Series creator Kevin Williamson served as the narrator. (Hollywood Reporter)

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Since we were in the front row, we were able to grab some of the name cards when we left and Louanne Stephens (Grams/Grandma Saracen) gave us her name card and the script she read from! Melissa let me keep all of them and I forgive ATX Fest for spelling Jen’s last name wrong. (It’s Lindley, not Linley.) 😉

That was a good way to wrap up the weekend. We wanted to try and sneak into the Fox Comedy Preview with The Grinder and Grandfathered but the script reading ran a little long and we couldn’t make it into the Alamo to see Josh Peck and Fred Savage. We did see Josh Peck walk past us that morning in the hotel lobby. He then walked outside and a gaggle of girls not so discreetly tried to casually follow him down the street.

We also witnessed a horribly awkward exchange between some man and this woman who is on the new show RosewoodHe came up to her in the lobby and started effusively saying how much he loved her show and she was so great on it and she had to stop him and say that he had her confused with someone else because her show hadn’t aired yet.

Hahaha. Sorry, Jaina Lee Ortiz. You handled it very gracefully and so sweetly. (I believe she told him, “Oh, I wish I were her. You were so excited!”) We thought it was hilarious.

That wrapped up our #atxseason4 experience for 2015. As always, I had a lot of fun but I felt like maybe it’s getting too big? It was a lot of people and a lot of sweaty line waiting and this year, more than in the previous two, waiting in line and not getting into some things I was hoping to see. The lack of organization was a big issue for me and it bothered me that we weren’t sent an attendee survey this time around to help give feedback and suggestions, like we have in the past. I won’t be attending in 2016 because I’ll have a newborn baby (oh yeah, by the way, I found out I was pregnant three days after getting back from this trip!) but may return for 2017, if badge prices haven’t tripled in price by then. Thanks for the memories, ATX Fest! Hope to see you again in the future. 🙂

How I Met Your Mother: Don’t Let the Finale Ruin the Rest of the Series

I was reading Vulture today and in Margaret Lyon’s Stay Tuned column, she gave advice to someone named Alex who just finished Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother and after hearing that the finale was awful, asked if it was worth continuing to watch the show. Margaret felt so burned by the finale that she said no, stop watching. I disagree.

I was burned by the finale too. In fact, I wrote essentially a dissertation on it and my feelings have not shifted. But I think if I was talking to anyone that was unsure about committing to the full series based on hearing bad things about the finale, even though they loved the first season, I would suggest that they try to sample some of the best episodes of the following seasons. For HIMYM, there are solid episodes throughout every season – even the later years where it gets weird and the tone changes.

My suggested viewing of HIMYM is all of season 1. Hands down, a solid and lovely season that withstands multiple viewings.

   

I’ve limited my list of favorites from the rest of the series to my top 2 per season, plus a bonus episode (or two). I think beyond season 1, seasons 2 and 4 are worth watching in their entirety but if you’re going to take a sampling approach, try these:

Season 2:

  • Slap Bet
  • Swarley
  • Bonus:It’s a tie! Showdown & Lucky Penny

Season 3:

  • How I Met Everyone Else
  • Spoiler Alert
  • Bonus: The Bracket

Season 4:

  • Three Days of Snow
  • The Front Porch
  • Bonus:It’s a tie! Woooo! & Naked Man

Season 5:

  • Duel Citizenship
  • Robots vs. Wrestlers
  • Bonus: Girls vs. Suits

Season 6:

  • Bad News
  • Legendaddy
  • Bonus: Hopeless

Season 7:

  • The Best Man
  • The Magician’s Code
  • Bonus: Ducky Tie

Season 8:

  • The Final Page
  • The Time Travelers
  • Bonus: Something New

Season 9:

  • Unpause
  • How Your Mother Met Me
  • Bonus: Last Forever