In My Brother’s Shadow by Uwe Timm – A Book Review

Last year and now this year, I have been reading a lot of books about the Holocaust.  My husband, ever the anthropologist, always wants to know about the German side.  What did the Germans feel?  Not the Nazis, but the average German citizen.  What did they know?  What did they think?

To try to answer this, we watched the movie, Hitler’s Children.  This powerful documentary interviews the children of Hitler’s top officers.  The guilt many of them feel is palpable, even though their parents were the guilty ones, not them.

Uwe Timm, who was born in 1940 and was just a small boy during World War II, wrote the book, In My Brother’s Shadow: A Life and Death in the SS to learn more about his brother’s own experience as a German soldier.  (His father was also a German soldier in World War I and II.)  Unfortunately, by the end of the book, Timm seems to have more questions than answers.

Timm’s brother, Karl-Heinz, was 16 years older than him; his sister, Hanne Lore, 18 years older.  Out of respect, Timm waited to write this book until all the members of his family–his mother, father, brother and sister–had died.

Karl-Heinz died in 1943, after suffering injuries in the war that required both of his legs to be amputated.  His family never got true answers of how he died; in letters he seemed like he was on the mend after the amputation.  What the family did get were Karl-Heinz’s belongings, including a diary he wasn’t supposed to have kept.

Written in brief sentences and words, with very little emotion, the diary seems to just create more questions for Timm rather than answers.

In the end, this book was most interesting for me at the personal level.  Timm’s father was a difficult man who had a very close relationship with his oldest son, but had no interest in his only daughter.  He and Timm had a difficult relationship.  In later years, Timm’s father turned into an alcoholic.

Timm spends time examining what his family knew about what was happening to the Jews as well as the possible blood that may be on his own father and brother’s hands.  Timm himself continues to feel the guilt, though he was only a small boy at the time.

History buffs will appreciate the middle of the book which delves heavily into German battles, strategies, and failures.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.



Finding BALANCE in 2015–January Update

e2c0a977568b4c18a42e07b94d57976aThis year, for the first time, I decided to choose a word to serve as my theme for the year, so to speak.  My word this year is BALANCE because it’s sadly missing in my life.

A funny example to illustrate this–my kids were watching Arthur on PBS and they learned about the legacy a person can leave.  I asked all three kids what they would remember about me.  Bookworm said he’d remember how much I liked to cook and that I was kind.  PB & J Girl would remember my gray hair that kept falling out (Thanks!), and Cuddle Bug said, “Your work?  I’ll remember how much you worked.”


Not the legacy I want.

But, I took steps in January to remedy that.

Though it’s scary as can be for a girl who is terrified of financial instability, I quit several of my jobs.  Doing so wasn’t easy.  Some jobs I’ve had for four years!

I anticipate that with my reduced workload, I will have a 33% income cut from my 2014 earnings (which were already lower than my 2013 earnings.)

However, I also anticipate that I will have a lot more time to spend with my family on the weekends rather than staying holed up in my room writing.  I’ll also have more time for homeschooling.  I’ll have more time to spend with my family.  I’ll have more time to clean the house.  I’ll have more time to do activities I enjoy but have been too busy to do.

Most importantly, I’ll have more time to give my husband time to focus on his work.  The next few years are important for him career-wise because he needs to secure grants, and next year he’ll start the search for a tenure track position, which can be very time consuming.

While I would like to tell you that I had time to do many of the things I wanted to accomplish, January was a very busy month.  However, my reduced work load will go in effect in February.

This month was simply setting the stage for finding balance.

Did you choose a word for this year?  If so, what was it?  How are you doing in living the way you would like?


How I Feed My Family for $6,500 a Year–Week Three (January 16 – 22, 2015)


This year, I'm aiming to spend $6,500 total for food for my family.  That amount includes groceries only, NOT toiletries.  We rarely eat out, so the food I buy to prepare at home is what we eat. Since my husband is paid bi-monthly, the goal is to … [Continue reading]

My Trip to the Phoenix Gluten Free Allergen Free GFAF Expo – A Recap


I had the pleasure of attending the Gluten Free, Allergen Free Expo in Phoenix on January 17th, and I and my family had a great time! We started by meeting a sponsor of the expo, Massel.  Massel makes gluten free, vegetarian and vegan broths.   I … [Continue reading]

Menu Planning for January 25, 2015

This week, we had $29 left in the budget to spend for groceries.  We spent exactly that amount.  :) We have some cabbage, potatoes, and zucchini left from previous weeks.  This week, we got acorn and carnival squash, tomatoes, green beans, and … [Continue reading]

An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller – A Book Review

I've been reading a lot of heavy books lately about WWII and the Holocaust, so I was looking for something lighter to read.  I picked up An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller, and it perfectly met the bill of lighter reading. Honestly, the first … [Continue reading]

Weight Loss Wednesday – Update Two

I think for the last two years I’ve had exercise regularly on my goals list, but it never happened.  I always had excuses—the three kids were home with me, so I didn’t have time, or I was too busy to exercise.  Blah, blah, blah. We all know the … [Continue reading]

How I Feed My Family for $6,500 a Year–Week Two (January 9 – 15, 2015)

This year, I'm aiming to spend $6,500 total for food for my family.  That amount includes groceries only, NOT toiletries.  We rarely eat out, so the food I buy to prepare at home is what we eat. Since my husband is paid bi-monthly, the goal is to … [Continue reading]

The Financial Hope Conference – Coming January 24, 2015 to Phoenix, Arizona

I'm a big fan of Steve and Annette Economides.  I read their book, America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money, which made me decide to focus more on freezer cooking to save money and to implement the chore system that my children are … [Continue reading]

Menu Planning for January 18, 2015

So, we're almost out of grocery money for this four week cycle (look for an update this Tuesday), and there's still 11 days in the cycle.  That is the bad news. The good news is that we've been stocking the freezer, so we have over two weeks' … [Continue reading]