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My dad, Dean, and the owner of River Ridge, is one of ten kids.

Most of the Laurvick clan lives (or has lived) in Yakima.  We grew up in Terrace Heights, and spent a large part of our time at Grandpa’s house.  Set on 5 acres of land near the Yakima River, he had a small farm.  Horses, goats, pigs, chickens.  (Grandma really, really loved those chickens.)  There was an angry bull that guarded the fields, an occasional rattlesnake, and sometimes rabbits.

And kids.

Oh my goodness, were there kids.

At one point I counted, and discovered I have over sixty first cousins.

(Yep.  Six-zero.  Sixty.)

Whether Grandpa’s house or ours, at any family function the kids would descend on the place like bees on a flower patch.  There were a lot of people involved, regardless; ten adults plus spouses makes twenty large people.

When you added the kids, it was a horde.

The space would swarm with bodies, but it never felt crowded.  If you looked for just one person in the mob it was difficult to find them, but it never felt overwhelming.  Raucous laughter of teens and the shrill cry of infants battled for dominance, but it never seemed loud.  It sounded happy.

It sounded full.

Easter egg hunts.  Scavenger hunts.  Hours and hours and hours of hide-and-seek.  Flashlight tag after dark, campouts in the back yard, barbeques, scary stories, catching salamanders and frogs by the ditch, and one time sneaking off to the creek to play in the water, even though I knew my mom would have an aneurism if she knew we were doing it.

Growing up in a large family, I have learned a few things about sharing.  Community property.  I’ve learned that all things are better with company, and that although we are called to live independent lives, we need like-minded people around us to provide support, sometimes a well-timed kick in the shorts, and backup.

At River Ridge, we take Family very seriously.  Not the obligatory, “You have to be nice to her, she’s your sister” kind of way, but in the way we felt as kids, running around the yard, hiding and seeking and digging in the dirt, discovering the world with the closest of friends.

To us, family means “you hurt me, but I forgive you.”  It means “I need someone to play with me, bring your bike and let’s go for a ride.”

To us, family means you’re never alone, not in company or in value, not in mindset or in calling.

I have this theory that God bakes His people in batches, kind of like cookies.  One batch at a time, He mixes and blends, then drops us into the world to bake.

Occasionally throughout our lives, we meet people who are baked from the same batch.  Mixed in the same bowl, we sense their similarities.

THAT is family.  People baked in your own batch.

I have met family that is not directly related to me, but their hearts match my soul.  We mesh.  We are kindred spirits, and in a very real (quite literal) way, I crave to dig in the dirt and hide-and-seek with them.  To discover the world with them by my side, because we just fit.

For those of you that visit at River Ridge, for those of you who have found a tiny bit of home and family with us and in our space, Thank You.  Thank you for being who you are, for recognizing a fellow cookie batch person when you see them, and for calling us “friend.”

For those of you that are looking for family in the way I remember it, come and see us.  Like I said, we take Family very seriously, and we’re always looking for more.  We believe in Family so much, we’ve made it one of our core values, and we strive to live up to it every day.

Much love to you, and God bless.  See you in the Clubhouse!