Friday, November 30, 2018: All day Friday, I was giddy with excitement for my trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit Jessie and her family. It had been 2.5 years since Jessie and I had seen each other, when she came to DC April 2016.
After my morning class, I came home to pack and then head to the airport. The flight departed on time, but we had an unexpected layover in Chicago that added a couple hours to the trip (our plane had de-icing issues, so it wasn’t safe to land in Omaha, which had possible freezing ice). Fortunately, United had another plane on hand at O’Hare, so it wasn’t a terrible delay, and I managed to get a ton of work done during the trip, meaning I hardly had to do any work while in Nebraska.
Pretty decor at O’Hare. It looked very Potter-esque.
I landed at OMA around 9:30 pm, and Jessie pulled up just a few minutes later. That moment of finally seeing each other after so long never gets old. It’s the best feeling in the world!
Mandatory reading material
We had fun chatting during the drive back to Lincoln. The kids were asleep, so we hung out with Austin and his friend Fluff (yes, his nickname is Fluff – how awesome is that?) who was driving through that night. I gave Jessie and Austin matching Hoboken hats. (White and blue for Jessie, brown and green for Austin. Austin wore his almost the entire weekend.) We stayed up too late and then I went down to my lair in the basement. It was really cold down there, but I had tons of blankets and a space heater, so I slept really well that night and, actually, all weekend (thank you, ear plugs!).
Fluff, Natalie, and Austin
Saturday morning, I woke up around 9ish and finally got to see the kids. I had gotten them some little New York City souvenirs, and it was fun telling them about the Empire State Building. Jack particularly enjoyed his mini snow globe. We played games and ate delicious cinnamon pancakes.
Snow globes make excellent hats!
I didn’t even mean to include the vacuum cleaner, but it’s entirely appropriate because Stockton loves to vacuum!
The best brothers
Then Jessie and I went to our nails appointment at Sapphire after getting coffee for me and cider for Jessie at Starbucks. We both picked shades of dark red and enjoyed being pampered.
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A classic Jessie-Ananda photo
After nails, we went to Hy-Vee for groceries (fun fact: Jessie used to work at Hy-Vee, cutting up fresh fruit), then picked up Austin and the kids for a Barnes and Noble run. We played with toys at the book store, and the kids each picked out a book. A Frozen book for Stockton, volcanoes for Jack, and 1000+ animal facts for Natalie.
After a quick Target run, we went home to make lunch. I made pasta e ceci (adult spaghetti-o’s) which I had been telling Jessie about for months, and she made roasted broccoli. I had to use the wrong kind of pasta and it ended up getting overcooked, but Austin and Jessie enjoyed it anyway. The broccoli was also delicious.
The kids had some “quiet time” after lunch, and Jessie took a little nap while I finished up an assignment for school. Stockton got out his toy laptop and sat next to me while I typed, which was super cute.
Soon it was time for The Crimes of Grindelwald! Austin made the greatest t-shirts for Jessie and me, featuring a giant picture of Eddie Redmayne’s head. We also wore our Hoboken hats. Their theater has reclining seats – the most comfortable ones I’ve ever sat in. We had way too much candy and soda during the movie. It was so fun to continue our tradition of seeing HP movies together and then discussing all the details of the film afterwards.
His floating head will never not be funny.
The movie crew
“Accidental” selfie
Jessie’s mom had come over to babysit the kids (Thanks, Jill!), so we hung out with her after the movie. Austin picked up Honest Abe’s for dinner – incredibly delicious and unique burgers. (Austin won a competition once that got him hundreds of dollars of free Abe’s burgers!) Mine was the Aphrodite (I kept calling it the Athenian accidentally), which had a feta yogurt sauce, pickled onions, and other deliciousness on it. Plus truffle garlic fries. So, so good!
We had a great time chatting with Jessie’s mom about Bohemian Rhapsody and the Potter series. Then we settled in to watch the Kiera Knightley Pride and Prejudice – incredibly satisfying.
Sunday morning we had fun playing with the kids. Then we drove to Omaha to go to church with Jessie’s parents. I always really enjoy going to church with Jessie and seeing that part of her life. Natalie, Jessie, and I took turns writing sentences for a story about a baby fox and his pet pig Gary.
Jack thinks it’s hilarious to try on adult shoes… and it is. 
Austin shaved his mustache like Freddie Mercury
After church, we went to the Plumbs’ house to spend time with my favorite family. I have so many great memories in that house, and it looked so cozy with all the Christmas decorations. I got to see Jill’s reading fort in Jessie’s old room, which is my new favorite space. It was really fun catching up with Max and Terry. I helped Jessie assemble the chicken phyllo and rice dinner, which Jill had prepared. It’s one of the best Plumb recipes ever. It was so so satisfying and perfect. I was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take pictures!
After dinner we started watching The Count of Monte Christo, a Plumb family favorite, which I had never seen. Then we drove back to Lincoln. We played 20 questions with the kids, which was hilarious because they didn’t quite get it. When it was Jack’s turn he said “no” to every single question we asked. “Is it bigger than a car?” “No.” “Is it smaller than a car?” “No.” “Is it a car?” “No.” “What is it?” “A house!”
We drove by a house where the Christmas lights were synced to a local radio station!
After the kids went to bed, some of Jessie and Austin’s friends came over. Landen and Emily and Frankie and Kyle were really fun and silly. We talked for a while, ate banana bread and drank hot apple cider, and then played Scattergories, which is always a blast, especially debating over sketchy answers (A famous saying? She sells seashells by the seashore. Something black? A wastebasket liner.) I won, thank you very much, and Jessie was a close second. After the friends left, Austin gave Jessie and me Star Wars trivia questions before bed.
Monday morning, I slept in while Jessie and Austin got the kids to school. I tried Apple Cinnamon Toast Crunch – Austin’s favorite cereal – which got a thumbs up from me. Jessie and I ran some errands, and I got a couple Huskers’ souvenirs for me and Christian. We’ll wear them with pride.
Then Jessie and I had a delightful lunch at El Potrero, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Lincoln. We talked about politics (which is always fun because Jessie and I sometimes have different views but we both respect each other’s opinions and like thinking about different sides of an issue) and life. She and I could literally talk for days and never get bored. It’s the best.
My beautiful best friend!
After lunch we went home and hung out with the boys for a while. Then we took them to the church to pick out a toy for Stockton (a big blue car) and to Target for dinner ingredients.
Jessie’s little helper
Surprisingly, I had never tried Jessie’s favorite Indian food, so we stopped by The Oven to pick up Mulligatawny soup to go. (It was soo warming and tasty.)
After picking up Natalie from school, we made dinner (autumn soup, honey wheat rolls, and edamame) and played with the kids. It snowed on and off all weekend, and the kids wanted to play in the snow. So Jessie got them all bundled up and then they were literally out there for like 5 minutes before coming back in because they were too cold. Dinner was extremely delicious. We had it with cranberry ginger ale, which Jessie says tastes like Christmas, and she’s absolutely right. Then it was time to take Natalie to ballet. She looked completely adorable in her black ballet skirt and bun. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was getting to see Jessie and Austin in parent-mode. They are amazing with their kids, and I learned so much from them this weekend.
Jack trying on my shoes. He called them Santa’s boots.
Ballet was really cute. Jack came with us, and he had fun drawing and playing pretend games in the waiting area.
Jack drew “a fish”
After ballet, we got Yogurtini – literally the best froyo I’ve ever had!
After the kids went to bed, Jessie and I finished watching The Count of Monte Christo and then just talked about books and movies with Austin. Eventually it was time for bed. Jessie and I both love love love sleeping.
Tuesday morning, I woke up in time to say goodbye to the kids and Austin.
My socks look ridiculous haha
Thanks so much to Austin for being an amazing host and letting Jessie and I have lots of quality time together. He’s awesome, and I’m so happy that he and Jessie found each other. When I told him he should come to New York, his response was “yeah, right” since he hates traveling and big cities. So I’ll just have to visit again soon – with Christian next time.
Jessie and I drove to Omaha to have breakfast with Jill at First Watch. My Belgian waffle + eggs + bacon + coffee were perfect. It was great to have more time with Jill. She and Jessie have so much in common, so it’s no wonder I just love her.
After breakfast, Jessie drove me to the airport, and even though it was sad to say goodbye, we were both just so happy and grateful that we had such a long, lovely weekend together. Even though we see each other only once every couple of years, it’s always like no time has passed. No matter what we do, we have fun together, laugh a lot, and have the greatest conversations. We had the perfect mix of fun activities and relaxing down time. I slept really well and it truly felt like a vacation. It was also great to see Jessie’s routine and know about the details of her life these days. This trip was really special because I finally got to spend quality time with her babies. Jack has the cutest voice and does the best little gasps and exclamations at anything remotely exciting. Stockton is so curious and loves seeing how things work. He also loves making his family laugh – a frequent occurrence. And Natalie is a bright star – so independent and fearless and kind – and so much like her mom. I love them all so much.
Now I’m sitting at the airport, feeling especially grateful for my best friend of 16 years. We’re already planning Jessie’s next trip to visit me in 2020. Until next time!