Running from the Law: Lenz Family Challenge - Easter Edition

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lenz Family Challenge - Easter Edition

You probably don't know this about me, but I grew up in a bowling alley. Literally. Since before I was born, my grandparents ran the bowling alley in my hometown. Throughout the years, my mom worked there, my aunt worked there, my grandparents both worked there.  My dad bowled in a league...with my uncle.  I was on a junior league, so were my brothers, and my cousins. So we all spent a LOT of time at the bowling alley.

It's a big concrete building on the edge of town, but for all of us, it's like a second home.   It's our family's business. It's where I could aways go and find someone who loved me. The doors were always open. We've probably all worked at the bowling alley for extra money at some point in our lives. I learned countless lessons there: how to count (by adding up pins and keeping score); how to work hard (by watching my grandfather climb in the machines to fix them); how to play fair (from countless games of tag, hide-and-seek, cards, etc. with my cousins); what a naked woman looks like (from sneaking a peek at the nudie cards the men in the Monday night league had); and that I should always tell the truth (even when I accidentally broke a woman's car window in the parking lot throwing a rock). It's a familiar place with a distinct sound and smell that always reminds me of family and fun and adventures. So I was really upset a few years ago when my grandparents decided to retire and started looking to sell the place.

However, as luck would have it, I wasn't the only one who felt this way about the place. My aunt Diane bought the bowling alley and has been running it ever since. She's made really fantastic improvements like new ball returns, automatic score keepers, new carpet and chairs, new (cosmic) lighting. She even brought back the snack bar that had been closed forever and remodeled the bar. She's poured her heart and soul into the place and it looks amazing. Now she runs it with her kids and their families, so a new generation of the Lenz family will grow up with similar feelings of love and memories of family.
Naturally, with our family all having grown-up in a bowling alley, bowling is in our blood. Don't laugh! My uncle is a professional bowler (I'm not kidding) and has like 15 perfect games. My brother actually bowled a perfect game last year! And my cousin Jenny is one of the best female bowlers around. She's really good! So, what do you think happens when you get a bunch of competitive rowdy cousins home together for the holiday with an empty bowling alley just down the street?

The Lenz Family Challenge!

We are not the kind of family to sit around after a holiday meal and watch sports. Oh no. We all pack up and head to the bowling alley and get our bowl on!

Chris and Jenny prepare the lanes.
The rest of us get our shoes on and get mentally prepared.

This is my pretty pink bowling bag with purple shoes (that match my purple ball).
And then it's time.

Let's meet the players...

Tim (my youngest brother)
Jason (Jenny's beau)
Sara (me)
Chris (my other brother)
Jenny (my cousin)
Brian (another cousin)
Ryan (my hubby)
Danny and Payton (more cousins!)

Let the games begin!

Bowling in our family is a serious business. Getting to sign your name to that Lenz Family Challenge pin is an honor. And the trophy is highly coveted. Winning gives the bowler bragging rights for possibly months (until the next holiday comes around).

And just because you participate in the games does not mean you even have a shot at winning the tournament. No, no no. You actually have to bowl 2 games and get the highest scores to even QUALIFY for the Challenge. I told you they're not messing around here.

I've never qualified. Never. Ever. Despite all that time spent at the bowling alley, I am not a good bowler. Sometimes I think I was adopted. Or, maybe I just spent too much time in the bar area, instead of on the lanes.  No, that couldn't be it. However, this year it was all about to change...
Look at that beautiful form!  (My grandpa taught me that)
Make it, make it, make it.
And I nailed it.
So it's ON!
After the first game, I am kicking some ass. I beat Chris, Ryan, Payton and Jason! I'm not kidding! It was only a 148, but might be my highest game ever. The boys were completely screwing around because they didn't want to be "ranked" high (or something). They called it strategy...I call it getting beaten by a girl!
So after one game, I'm a contender.
However, I get tired easy. And bowling makes me break nails. And did I mention I was tired? And don't forget the nails. So the second game was not as good. Although I did break 100, so I consider it a victory. This is more normal for me.
But even with a low second score, I qualified!! I actually made the bracket!! However, it was more of a moral victory, because by the time the "Challenge" was to begin, I was really bored of bowling (and tired) and just wanted to hang out and chat with everyone else. Plus, I didn't want to beat all the guys and make them look bad...I'm such a people pleaser. So I removed myself from the competition. See how I did that? Smooth, right?
Another great thing about this being a "family" business - all family members are included, even the furry ones. Did I mention that Mally likes bowling too?
So, with the bracket set, the Challenge began.
Ryan vs. Danny.
Three strkes. XXX. Ryan does the turkey dance.
Chris vs. Jenny.
Tim vs. Jason.
Tim with the roll and the strike. I love this picture!
Brian vs. Payton
After two competitive rounds, we were down to two.

Both Marines...both fighting for the win.

Danny on the loud speaker,
calls them down to the lanes through the crowds of screaming adoring fans...
(or just mom and Mally)...
First Brian, who just recently returned home after his service in the USMC (with time spent in Iraq and Afganistan)...
...and then Chris (who was in the USMC and stationed in Okinawa).
Are these two full of themselves or what?!

And they get started.
Strike! This is such a great picture!
It was intense. We were all on the edge of our seats.
Even Mally.
In the end, it was Chris (aka CHolts) who took the lead and won the Lenz Family Challenge - Easter Edition 2010.
He gave Danny an exclusive interview and humbly accepted his prize.
The rest of the time was spent catching up with cousins and goofing around.

So yes, it's probably a strange family holiday tradition, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.


  1. That looks like so much fun!

  2. That looks like an absolute blast!! I really enjoyed "watching" the game through the pictures (:

  3. How fun! That is a great family tradition!

  4. Hahaha- I am not a bowler, so I think your scores are incredible! What an interesting family story and tradition- love those unique things that make your family what it is. Was your husabdn super intimidated the first time he bowled with your family?

  5. What a great post and I was not laughing at all, I found it very interesting and was glad to learn more about you. I LOVE that Mally was there as well. I wish we could bring our pups everywhere. Hope you are having a nice week!

  6. What a fun tradition. I think I scored a 40-something last time I bowled :)

    And side note - you're from Louisiana, MO?? Have you been to the Lay Center that SLU runs?? I go there all the time!

  7. Just started following your blog and I'm loving it! This is such a fun tradition! Loved reading about it!

  8. Did you know the past two years we have given a "Lenz Family Youth Bowling Scholarship" to a boy and a girl who bowl in our youth league to encourage them to continue their education?-- Diana

  9. I love this post! The pictures were great!!

  10. That is so cool! I still don't get WHY after a lifetime of never qualifying you would bow out. I'd talk trash till the very end, so you're better than me! Hah! I love that your hubby can hang with the fam. past time too.

    P.S. - your picture heavy posts aren't helping with my want for a new high end camera. Jealousy. ;)

  11. Sara this is the best!!!

  12. I love this post! That is so cool that the bowling alley stayed in the family and what a fun tradition. I love it. It looks like a fantastically fun way to spend time with your family. And Mally of course. Who must be the best trained sheltie EVER!

  13. cool posting! thanks for sharing it with us