Back in the middle of August, Dan had to go on a work conference in Minneapolis. We decided to drive to it so that Ella and I could tag along. Since Dan was going to be in meetings most of the days Dan's mom flew up to join Ella and me. On the way to Minn, we drove up through Milwaukee. We stopped and had breakfast (which was really at lunch time) with the Rabies at one of our favorite Mke eats-The Pancake House. It was so fun to see our friends and drive around the city. It almost made me cry. We had so many good memories there and it was both happy and sad to see them again. We didn't have very long to stay and reminisce because we had to get to Madison, WI and pick up Gayle at the airport there. (A few days before the trip, she was going to use a free ticket to fly direct to Minn, but when she went to redeem it, it wouldn't work that short of notice. So we ended up trying all kinds of plans and the cheapest one was to have her fly into Madison then drive back with us home and have her fly back out of Grand Rapids). Dan and I didn't leave as early in the morning as we had hoped and ended up being really late to pick Gayle up. We both felt terrible. But she was very nice about it and we eventually made it to our hotel late that night.

I was SOOO glad that Gayle came on the trip with us because Dan literally spent all day in his conferences. He left early in the morning and didn't get done until about 7 at night. Gayle, Ella and I spent lazy mornings sleeping in and getting ready then we headed down to the Mall of America for the rest of the day.
The Mall of America
WOW that is a big mall. It took us 3 days to see and shop it all. It was perfect! Basically that was our trip, Dan at meetings, and the 3 girls shopping. Dan was able to come join us for dinner in the evenings, which was nice.

We took Ella to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner one night. That was fun!
Ella, after we first sat down at our table. I love how she's looking at Gayle like "What are we doing?"
Dan and Holly
Back behind us is one of those rock walls where it rains-so we got a few rain splashes on us. :)
These two were the fun-Ella was being cheesy and making faces at us.
They have thunder storms in the restaurant while you're eating. When the "thunder" storms would come through the restaurant Ella got a little scared. Basically "lightening" (the lights) flash, thunder booms and along the rock walls rain falls down. Ella would get really big eyes and look around, and kind of panic a little. She did enjoy watching the animated monkeys and elephants make noise and move around. Plus, she was amazed by all the fish.
She was amazed as long as she didn't get too close-then she would freak out.
In the store they had more animated figures which we checked out:
She did not like this tree.
It talks to you and that freaked her out, she was determined to crawl out of your arms and get away.
At the entrance there was an alligator that swam forward and opened it's mouth like it was going to bite. Ella was not amused by it either.
More freaking and trying to get away.

We did make it up to her though-we took her to the amusement park in the middle of the mall (yes, full out amusement park-roller coasters, the whole deal -in the mall) and let her ride the carousel. She loved it!
This is her before the ride began, she's checking out all the lights above her.
Here she is on the ride-you can't tell but she has the biggest smile on her face!
Ella after the ride is over. She had so much fun she didn't want to get off.
A little side story about this day-While Gayle and I were shopping that day, Ella had a stinky diaper that leaked out on to her shorts and part of her shirt. So being 20 min from the hotel and with an impending dinner reservation, we decided to just go buy her something. We went into the Carter's store and picked out a bunch of fall outfits for her to wear. We figured we could just put her in one of those. Well the one we picked for her to wear that day was a corduroy skirt with a long sleeve shirt to match. We were just finished checking out and rushing because it was time for us to be at the Rainforest cafe when I realized she couldn't wear the long sleeved shirt! She had her cast on and the shirt wouldn't fit over it. Haha! So I ended up going back and finding something that would fit over her cast, and would match her skirt.

This is Ella in our hotel room. Gayle bought her this monkey at the Rainforest Cafe and Ella liked to wear it as a necklace. Notice the bag-she carried it around the room and put stuff in it. The next day she carried one out into the car as her "purse." Gayle and I converted her into a little shopping diva :)

Ella checking out the fountain out in front of our hotel.

We had such a fun trip, Ella was really good for it being a 10 hour car ride-each way. She struggled a bit with the whole change of environment and long days of shopping, but what do you expect of a 1 1/2 year old? I'm super glad that Gayle came, Ella and I really enjoyed her company. I probably would've stayed home and this was a much more fun way to spend the weekend. I wish Dan would've had more free time, but it was fun to tag along with him!

Ella's broken arm

She wore the splint for a week. Then we went back into the clinic and she got a cast. They let her pick what color she wanted to wear. (I narrowed down the choices to pink and purple:) She grabbed both samples. We kept asking her which one she wanted. Finally, she decided on the purple color. So they went about putting it on. She did not like this at all. She kept trying to undo what they were doing to do. Dan was actually working in the clinic, so in between patients he would pop in and see how Ella was doing. She was MUCH worse when he came in the room. She cried harder and thrashed more. Finally they finished. My poor little girl! She was so tiny and she had this tiny little cast! At first she tried to pick at it and pull at it, but eventually she just resigned to the fact that it was there.

She wore the cast for a week, then we went back into the Dr.'s office to have them check it. They decided to take the cast off so that they could get and x ray and see how it was doing. Plus, the night before we gave Ella a bath. As I was waiting for Dan to grab a plastic bag to put around her cast, I filled up the tub with water. Ella was trying to touch the running water with her right hand, and quick as a wink she fell in the tub head first. Cast and all. She was fine, just a little surprised, but her cast was pretty wet at the hand. We blow dried it as best we could then had to call it good. So I was okay with them cutting it off the next day.

Cutting off the cast was "fun". Ella screamed and cried as I held onto her. When the cast was cut through, they broke it in half and pulled the cast part off. She still had the fabric wrapped around it and she went about helping the cast tech pull that off. It was really cute to see her picking at it. She was excited to have that heavy thing off! Of course the amusement wore off fast when we took her back in to get an x-ray. She hates that thing! She screams and cries and tries to get away. It was a struggle between me and a nurse holding her down, but they got the pics they needed. To my surprise, when the Dr. came in after looking at the x-rays, he said she was healed. Her bone was callused over enough that she was able to be cast and splint free. He said that the bones in kids her age heal so fast. If she had been like 7 he said it would have taken at least a month.
Wow! One week in a splint and one week in a cast! She's a lucky girl! We were all happy to be rid of that cast. It was so hard to keep it clean-you know how one year olds eat, imagine that with a cast. ewe. Anyway, we kept the cast. And a few weeks later we pulled it out and set it back on her arm. She must have forgotten all about the experience, because she thought it was funny. She was giggling and acting like it was so cool. I was glad to see that the whole broken arm experience didn't scar her. As for climbing on chairs, that lesson didn't stick. She still climbs up to stand on them. I keep trying to remind her about her broken arm and how she can fall. Oh, I've got to keep my eyes on her, she's a busy girl :)