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!


  1. i miss you guys... that's all...