Markel Family Combo Breaker 2023 Getaway–Day Four

We did venture out from the hotel on Sunday of Combo Breaker, including a stop at “The Jewels.”

We also returned to the church of my childhood for the first time in several years:

We didn’t have a chance to go to the original Rainbow Cone location on the South Side like we used to, but we did visit one of their newer locations in Lombard…I love how the place looks!

The rest of the day was spent back at the event.

King of Fighters was another game that drew my attention this time…the commentators and crowd made it impossible not to want to watch!

We even found time with everyone’s work schedules to take our traditional family picture:

Tekken 7 is a game I always look forward to watching:

We found time for an evening walk outside:

I didn’t stay up as late as some, but I made sure to see a bit of the final top eight, Guilty Gear-Strive-.

After that, I headed back to the room Chickadee and I were sharing (that was a whole saga) for one last night at the hotel.

Markel Family Virtual Getaway–Day Four

The fourth day of our weekend getaway would have started with church at St. John Wheaton. It’s weird to think that this Sunday, not only are we not going to be there, but nobody is.

I had planned to stop at the Popcorn Store after church, so the children could each pick a selection of candy. I’m happy to hear that store is currently able to do curbside popcorn orders, but it’s not the same without looking at all the candy displays in the shop!

I always wear Pinup Girl Clothing to Combo Breaker on Sunday. I had a really good outfit planned this year, too…my purple plaid Long Jun skirt paired with an Animal Crossing t-shirt. I even had new Animal Crossing pins for my lanyard!

The finals on Sunday are always so exciting to watch, and other than some pool time, I think we would have dedicated most of the day to Combo Breaker. I really loved seeing Tekken 7 last year, and I was really looking forward to experiencing some “Good Ass Tekken” with a hype crowd again this year!

I had big plans for Memorial Day…stay tuned!

Markel Family Combo Breaker Getaway–Day Five

On Sunday, we stopped by Combo Breaker just as the pools were starting for the day. Since we were dressed for church, I took a picture of the Fab Five in their Sunday best:

And as is my tradition, I made sure to get a picture of myself wearing Pinup Girl Clothing on the Combo Breaker floor:

We then went to church at St. John Wheaton, where we unexpectedly ran into someone we knew…the Lutheran church is so small!

And then a stop at Oberweis for ice cream:

The lemon-blackberry was delicious!

After some lazy time in the hotel room, we went down to Combo Breaker for the Tekken 7 Top 8. The crowd was on fire, and I think this was my favorite fighting game to watch!

Ryan received a medal, as he has every year he has attended in one way or another:

That was the end of Combo Breaker, but we still had a few fun Chicagoland activities planned!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day Three

Last Saturday we woke up to the winter storm that had been forecasted…in the early part of the day, even the highways were covered, and from what we could see from our eighth floor hotel room, it was rough going out there. I was a little concerned that we would have to spend the entire day in our room…

We did have fun watching even more Food Network, and I went out to clear off the car at one point, but eventually I got kind of restless, so we walked over to the Oak Brook Home Show, which was being held next door at the Drury Lane Theatre. The show was kind of a bust (I hate high pressure environments), but I did enjoy seeing the inside of Drury Lane for the first time since I was a child. We were especially impressed by the beautiful chandeliers and ornate ceiling:

Back in our room, we noticed a bit of winter drama down below. One of the hotel snowplows had managed to get stuck in a snowbank, and we rather enjoyed watching as first they attempted to plow it out, then tried with shovels, and finally gave up and towed the thing out.

The snow did finally stop, and at some point I realized that the cars in the parking lot down below were no longer spinning their tires and the highways looked pretty clear. So we decided to venture out. First we stopped at Mariano’s, which is a new grocery store chain from when I lived in the Chicago area. We were very impressed with it, and decided we’ll probably need to go back in May, if only to sample the offerings from their “mochi bar.”

Then we went to church at St. John, Wheaton:

We even managed to stop back in at Frosty Faustings one more time, where we caught a bit of the cosplay contest and took a few more pictures.

Once we were back at the hotel, we dug into the treat we picked up at Mariano’s…an Eli’s Cheesecake sampler! We really enjoyed the specialty from “Mama’s Little Bakery, Chicago, Illinois!”

More Food Network, plus some Friends on Nick at Nite before bed on our last night in the hotel. We went to sleep wondering if there was going to be more snow overnight, but at least I parked in the theatre’s parking garage this time!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Five

Last Sunday morning, we celebrated the Holy Trinity at St. John Wheaton. We didn’t say the Athanasian Creed, but we did get to have donuts after the service!

Following church, we hurried back to Combo Breaker. I had to take a picture in what I’m calling a “Sailor Moon Bound” Pinup Girl Clothing outfit with my Sailor Jupiter lanyard that Ryan bought for me before the trip:

And, as always, we had to get a family picture with the big Combo Breaker screen in the background:

We went for one last swim:

And then returned to Combo Breaker, to see the Guilty Gear final, which Bunny was very excited about:

We celebrated my 1st 39th birthday a few weeks early with my mom at the Schnitzel Platz, where I got to hear “Happy Birthday” played on cowbells after dinner!

Back at Pheasant Run, we visited the arcade one last time:

While we were doing that, Ryan received a medal for the third year running…this one was very special!

We saw some of the Dragon Ball top eight, but it was getting late, so we headed back to our room before the final. Turkey watched it on my phone while the rest of his siblings fell asleep watching…more Food Network!

That was (sadly) our last night at Pheasant Run, but we still had a few fun activities planned before we headed home on Monday!

Markel Family Winter Weekend Getaway–Day Three

Did I mention why we were in Chicagoland in the first place? Ryan was working at/playing in the Frosty Faustings fighting game tournament. We couldn’t get free spectator passes like we have in the past at Combo Breaker, so we didn’t get to see much of the event, but we did peek in on Saturday morning:

We had more plans for Saturday, starting with a visit to Wheaton College’s campus to see the Perry mastodon and the Billy Graham Center Museum, which included a walk through “heaven:”

We also enjoyed a lunch featuring some of Chicago’s best foods at Flip’s in Glen Ellyn:

It occurred to me last year that I had been remiss in not taking the Fab Five to the Popcorn Store in downtown Wheaton, so we visited what is probably Chicagoland’s narrowest store, and picked out about $10 worth of candy to share:

Then we went back to the hotel for a little more cable TV, and a nice picture of the Fab Five:

We went to church at St. John Wheaton for the third time, but this was the first time we were there in the evening:

After church, we enjoyed a German dinner at Schnitzel Platz:

Once we were back at the hotel, we stayed awake watching Worst Cooks in America for as long as we could since it was our last night in the hotel!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Three

We were up pretty early yet again (we really don’t sleep in on vacations) to attend the early service at St. John Wheaton. It felt a little more familiar than it did last year, but part of me is still shocked that they’re in a different building!

When we arrived back at Pheasant Run, we hurried over to the Mega Center to watch Ryan play in the Mystery Tournament top eight. He didn’t win his match, but he came home with a medal for the second year in a row!

After he was done running his bracket, Ryan took us to lunch at Portillo’s. I think we’ve decided that enjoying one meal there while we’re in Chicago is a must…fortunately, it’s not too expensive! I ordered the Italian beef dipped (of course!), and some of my children were adventurous enough to order a Chicago-style hot dog. It was a delicious meal!

After yet another swim, we checked back in with Combo Breaker. The farther you get into Sunday, the bigger the crowds are!

Another swim, another walk around the resort. There was a small art show in the normally blocked-off upstairs of Bourbon Street, so we took a walk though there, and enjoyed both the art and the unique view. We also stopped by the bonfire after it had been lit, which was especially nice because it was a fairly cool weekend up north.

One final visit to the Combo Breaker floor, to see a round of the Street Fighter top eight, which is the highlight of the weekend for many:

Of course we watched a little more cable TV back in our room (after I discovered that for some reason, I couldn’t get a signal for WGN and couldn’t watch the News at Nine). And we left the curtains open so we could enjoy a last evening look from our room, on the clearest night we experienced while we were there. The glow coming from downtown Chicago is unmistakable, and we even realized that we could see a few other unidentified skyscrapers by the Sears Tower!

Just one last day of family fun to go before we returned home!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Four

On day four of our weekend getaway, we started the day with church at St. John Wheaton. This is the church where I was baptized, confirmed, and married, but I had yet to see their new building. It was beautiful!



After church, we went back to the hotel to watch the end of Ryan’s Tekken Ball tournament, where he finished fifth. Not bad for his first tournament! And, because I’m me, I had to wear a Pinup Girl Jenny skirt while I was there!

We had time for one last swim in the pool, and another walk around Pheasant Run to again admire how beautiful it was. I’d love to go back someday…it was a great place to stay!


We went to dinner at Portillo’s, where, even though I enjoy a good Chicago-style hot dog, I had the Italian beef, and it was just as good as I remembered. We then went back to the hotel to enjoy a little more cable TV (including HGTV this time), while Ryan finished up at Combo Breaker.


Looking Forward, Looking Back

Today is a bittersweet day at the church in which I grew up, for this morning they are celebrating one last Divine Service in their current building, before observing the disposition of the Sanctuary, and then consecrating the Sanctuary in a new building later in the week.

Logically, I know this is a good thing. The larger worship space will allow the church to cut back on the number of services offered each Sunday, allowing more of the congregation to gather for worship at the same time. And while the building is changing, the congregation remains the same. The gathered faithful, the pastors and staff, they are still intact. Yes, there has been fluidity over the years–members, pastors, and staff alike have gone to their glory, or moved, or moved on, but the heart of the congregation, the commitment to the Gospel, remains the same.

Aesthetically, it’s also a good thing, a nice blending of the old, (in keeping and moving the stained glass from the old building), and the new, (such as a beautiful new font to remind members of their own baptisms, as well as for baptizing new believers). Practically, too, the change is beneficial–the church will now be able to hold pews with kneelers, which is a nice return to tradition, and kneeling will hopefully be seen as a meaningful addition to the worship service.

Most importantly, however, the Word and Sacrament will remain unchanged, regardless of where the worship is being held, (or even who the worshippers are!). The Word will be faithfully preached, albeit from a new pulpit, and the Sacraments will still be faithfully administered–again, from a new font and altar, but the Word needed remains the same, and the water and bread and wine will still be present, regardless of the location or the vessels.

My heart, on the other hand, struggles with this change. I was baptized in the old church; I was also confirmed and married there. I don’t think that many people can say that about one church anymore. So many memories from my childhood are tied up in that old building, as that is also where I attended school from grades pre-k through 8. Regular and holiday worship services, school opening and closing services, Christmas programs, weekly chapel services, my first Communion, Confirmation, 8th grade Graduation–these are all memories I cherish. I will always remember singing in the choir, playing handbells, and acolyting up in the front of that Sanctuary–my first introductions to serving in the church, even as a child.

Other memories, as I became an adult, are also intertwined with that church. VBS openings and closings, where I was finally a teacher. My father’s funeral service. The first Easter Vigil service I ever attended. More holidays and special services. My wedding rehearsal, and the next day, the wedding itself. Bringing my firstborn child to worship there for the very first time. These are also memories I hold close to my heart, and for which I thank God.

I am happy for the congregation that they are able to move forward into this new phase of the life of the church. I am thankful for the many members that gave of their time and money so generously, in order to glorify God and further fulfill the Great Commission. At the same time, I’m a little sad that I’ll never again worship in the church of my youth, that my children will never again have a chance to go back there and worship in the same pews as I did when I was their age, that the Word will no longer be preached from that old pulpit, and that the Sacraments will never again be administered from that font and altar.