On Saturday we "visited" the 1600s, and on Sunday we spent our day in the 1800s.
There is this place in Naperville, IL, that is absolutely magical. It's a living history museum called Naper Settlement.
I was five years old the first time my parents took me there. I had just finished my very first chapter book, Little House in the Big Woods (of course that was my first chapter book. Too perfect). When my parents took me to this authentic little 1800s village and let me run wild and free, I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven.
I had my sixth birthday party there. And then I asked to visit every chance I got. Finally, when I was nine years old, I was old enough to become a "junior interpreter." And my favorite, nerdiest hobby of all time was born.
I worked there for nine years, moving up to become a building tour guide and finally the schoolmarm at the settlement's One-Room Schoolhouse. That's longer than I've ever stuck with anything. This experience led me to conclude that my true calling in life is to be an 1800s schoolmarm.
My hobby continued all through high school (I was the coolest) and didn't stop until I left for college. It's been about six years since I last served a shift as a schoolmarm, but to this day I remember those volunteer days as some of the happiest and most peaceful of my life.
The family tradition lives on. This summer, my little Angela started volunteering as a junior interpreter herself.
Here she is with her best friend Laura, whose lovely mother is a dear friend to both my mom and me:
We visited the one-room schoolhouse and I got all choked up with nostalgia. I asked the schoolmarm to let me play around with the girls a bit. She sweetly acquiesced, and we had a great time playing school for a little while.
Aren't they the cutest? And doesn't Laura look just like Laura Ingalls Wilder?
Laura's big sister Rachel joined us for a few photos after their shift was over. Rachel told me she sewed her dress herself. I was so impressed!
So that gave me an idea. Before I left, I asked for the email address of the volunteer coordinator. I sent her an email that same day asking if I could come back and volunteer again. Because I sure do miss it, and Angela told me she'd be thrilled to have me as her "teacher" on her volunteer days.
Fingers crossed that if all goes well, you might be subjected to photos of me wearing a hoopskirt and bonnet before too long. Because when your calling in life is to be an 1800s schoolmarm ... what else are you gonna do? :)
By the way, today is Frank's and my two-month wedding anniversary, and tomorrow we'll have been together for 1.5 years. It's hard to believe it's been only a year and a half—in many ways it feels like I've known him my whole life. Here's to many more months and years together!