11 May 2007


A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
- Ecclesiastes 4:12

The Siblings, ca. 1985

As I’ve come into adulthood (or something vaguely resembling adulthood), the appreciation I have for my brother and sister has increased. When many other sets of siblings we know have simply let the cords of connection dissolve, ours are indelibly wound together. We had fun as kids growing up and experienced the usual bumps, bruises, and minor disagreements which, at the time, threatened to tilt the earth off its axis. As adults, we are inseparable and still finding pleasure in each other’s company.

Peder has always been all boy, playing soccer, riding dirt bikes, playing basketball, breaking bones, getting dirty, and providing the unexpected comic relief. When we were little, he would chase my sister and me around the house as we ran from him, shrieking. Once when my mom stopped him in his tracks to ask him why he chased his sisters like that, he replied with a devilish glint in his eye, “Because I like to hear them scream!”

I was the artsy/creative one of the bunch, fabricating stories from lofty and fantastic places in my imagination. I would draw and color the days away quite contentedly. At the age of three, I began to teach myself to read, cementing my bibliophilic tendencies early on. I was also unafraid to speak my mind; my mom has often quipped, “We never knew what was going to come out of your mouth – and we still don’t!”. I played piano and even performed some improvised “concerts” for captive audiences of my friends, family, or any stranger caught in the same room.

Kaari (rhymes with “sorry”) was a bossy toddler and quite the prim mistress of the house. In one of my earliest memories of her at approximately the age of two, she is standing at the top of the stairs, one hand placed disapprovingly on her hip, the index finger of her other hand shaking disapproval, censuring my brother and I for what was no doubt some grave misbehavior on our parts. She never was a girly girl, preferring soccer, basketball, and bigwheel races to playing with dolls or holding tea parties with fake toast and empty plastic teacups. We didn’t seem to understand one another, but managed at the very least to put up with one another.

As each of us has grown older, our bond is tighter than ever. Thanks to sharply discounted mobile phone plans from my job that include unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes, we spend hours on the phone each month sharing every detail of our day, cracking jokes, laughing at ourselves, or sifting through our own thoughts and dilemmas. Sometimes we just need to hear each other’s voices.

Peder is a fantastic listener and allows me to verbally process and overanalyze whatever I bring to him. I’m fortunate to have him living in the same apartment building as myself. He has retained his terrific sense of humor (though he no longer uses it to make my sister and me scream) and can be counted on to come to my aid for heavy lifting, minor plumbing crises, or to drive me safely through the snow and ice. His playful, childlike heart reminds me not to take things too seriously. He is the most generous and selfless man I know, often sacrificing his own plans for a friend (or sibling) in need. I’ve often said that I’m convinced there is not a woman on the planet good enough for him; I hope someday soon I will be proven wrong.

Kaari has also spent her fair share of hours listening to me process and analyze my innermost thoughts. She is meticulous and has a true flare for organization, whether it be for a room (as evidenced by my own closet and bathroom), for important documents, or her finances. We share a deep love for the outdoors and often dream of trips we could take together (Greece and New Zealand top the list). She and I both have a deep love for music; what one discovers a new singer-songwriter or band, the other is sure to love it too. We’ve spent enough time together to accurately complete each other’s thoughts and often find we were thinking the same thing at the same time, leading us to believe that despite possessing separate bodies, we do in fact share a brain.

I can’t think of anything in particular that fostered this profound friendship among us. Like any parents, ours loved each other and us as best they could; they fostered our individual gifts and talents, allowing us each to figure out who we are. There was no magic formula, no secret parenting ingredient. It was not and is not all poetry: I recall many times when we must have driven our parents nuts with our poking and complaints of line-crossing or channel-changing. And I guarantee you there are still times where one of us is bound to chafe against another’s last nerve.

But at the end of the day, we are the first to stand in the gap for each other. It is not lost on us how remarkable this really is. Whether it’s to vent about a bad day, opine about the price of gas, or share exciting news, each is there for the other without hesitation and without question.

We have a childhood in common, but it is something so much more than that now. By the grace of God alone, it is something that surpasses explanation. We will sometimes pause to be amazed and let it sink in how remarkable it is, but are all hard-pressed to account for how it came to be that way. As a writer, I would love to find the language to distill for you precisely what that “something more” is. I humbly concede that language fails me utterly. Simply said, we like each other –- a lot. We are each other’s closest friends and nearest allies.

Uproot one, and the others will follow, for our roots are tangled tight and deep within the earth from which we grow. They reach down deeply, intertwining to hold each other up –- to keep each other stable, sane, and laughing.

My birthday dinner, January 2007


  1. Ahh...it sounds like you like us! (:

    What a good way to start out my morning! I got a little chocked up...I really don't know what to say. Nothing really seems appropriate!

    But I do thank God every chance I get for blessing me with you and Peder! I don't know where I would be without you two.

    Every tantrum, finger shake, and channel changing incident got us here! And if this is the end result...I would do it all again!

  2. What a sweet remembrance and how wonderful that you put it down. Isn't that partly what blogging should be? To show our love? I think so.

  3. Kaari - thank you! I'm so glad you liked what I wrote and that it was a blessing to you. Words fall far short of saying how great you & Peder are. But this is my best effort!

    LL - I absolutely think this is what part of blogging should be. It is so good to draw attention to what & whom we love.

  4. Kirsten, I love this post so much. I feel like I got a real feel for who all three of you are, individually and collectively. I loved the "feel" of your relationship. I also felt like this read a lot like something that deserves to be published elsewhere! I wonder where your beautiful writing will land you??

  5. Oh, and by the way, I love that last picture of you in glasses! Very cute.

  6. That was an amazing post. I'm going to send several of my friends over to read it. =) We only have one kid right now (albeit, his cuteness should count for two! haha!) but reading your post makes me want to hurry and have more. Siblings are such a wonderful blessing. As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to call mine right now!

  7. It is interesting, because I feel like I shared so much of that growing up stuff with you - at least until college. I met you just about a year after that picture was taken - and I have so many fond memories of the Haaland household. Its funny to see how close the three of your are, because I remember when Kaari and Peder tag teamed and ganged up on you. It seemed like they definitely knew how to push your buttons. But just as you have grown in your relationship with each other, so have I with my brother (having just come back to my parents house after spending the afternoon over at his house with the family - you probably remember just as much how I couldn't stand him, and now we do quite well together. How God truly works in amazing ways.

  8. Thank you, one & all for your kind comments. I'm so thankful each of you were touched by my piece about my wonderful siblings.

    Christianne - I am glad to hear that you got a good feel of our relationship. I often tell others how fab my bro & sis are, so finally thought it'd be good to put it down. I really wanted to share this with you all. God only knows where such writing will take me ...

    And glad you liked the glasses pic! Normally I only wear them in front of the computer or at night, but have become increasingly dependent on them lately (as I type here without them - shame!).

    Rebecca - So glad you enjoyed the post; thank you for sending it on! I love it especially when it affords new connections I otherwise would not form of my own. I was actually thinking of you & your siblings when I wrote this too. I only stayed with your family for a short while, but you three also seem to have a very special relationship.

    And you're absolutely right - you've got one incredibly adorable kid. I'm sure any siblings God might provide him with will be equally cute!! :o)

    Ilse - I am especially glad you read this, since you've known me the longest of any who read this blog (except of course, my siblings themselves).

    I remember the relationship with yoru brother too & love having heard how you two have grown closer over the years. What is it about growing up that can either deepen the rift, or draw us closer?

    It's a mystery to me, but I'm grateful for having been blessed with such terrific friends & allies in my own family.


  9. wonderful post and tribute to your siblings.... i feel the same way about my three sisters. you are so lucky to have yours nearby! my nearest sister is 13 hours away....

    it is hard to express in words isn't it.....that bond? but you did a beautiful job.....

  10. Oh, Blue. I feel for you. That is much too far for a sibling to be. But the more I hear of others with a similar bond, the more thankful I am that God has gifted so many brothers and sisters with the gift of a deep and abiding friendship. :o)

  11. See now this is what I like! I can so relate to this and if you don't mind I'm going to borrow this idea for a post of my own.

    I'm so glad you share this love with K & P, it makes life so beautiful.