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Jennie Reeves

Spending time at Jennie Reeves’ house, Old Alice,  is like living in a fairy tale. She has a love for adventure that she shares with her children, Lucy and Eric, and three grandchildren (Elizabeth, 17, and Kate, 9, from Eric; and Stella, 5, from Lucy). For her, being “YaYa” is a thrill, full of excitement and a wonderful opportunity to influence a young life over time. We celebrate Grandparents Day this month, and want to honor Jennie and all the other special grandparents in our lives.

What do you love most about being a grandmother?
Having a chance to influence a child’s life is the most important thing about being a grandparent. It’s sheer fun. I was influenced by my childhood memories of my grandmother. She was so fun and her house was always full of adventures. She taught me a lot that I have passed along to my grandchildren. For instance, one of the most fun things I do with the girls is teaching them how to make toad houses. And we are always on the search for good hummingbird houses. We’re so fortunate to live in this old house that was built in 1918. It has magical places in it that are just perfect for grandchildren. We’re on the corner with two creeks that surround our property. One of the creeks is so remarkable—it’s a limestone bed, the water is clear and it’s perfect to walk in and hunt tadpoles. It’s like another world.

We hear stella is in kindergarten at Lamplighter in the exact room where you taught. How special is that?
I’m very tickled about that. We now say it is our room, not my former room or her new kindergarten room. Becoming a teaching grandmother is a natural extension of that career.

What do you love to do with your granddaughters?
When Elizabeth was younger we would build playhouses and hang quilts from the trees. By magic, the Highland Park Pharmacy would pull up and bring us grilled cheese sandwiches. Kate and I share books. She reads a novel and then I read it and we talk about it. We love to go on walks, talk, go on adventures and make cookies. When I know [Stella’s] coming over to swim, I always put a watermelon in the pool (it floats) and then we crack it open. She and I love to eat watermelon. It’s sort of a funny family joke. We love to paint and swing too. It’s a great joy in my life to play and read with my girls and just talk.

Does Stella have a nickname for your husband?
Bop, Bopster or Boppy!

Do you have one for her?

She is named after me; her name is Stella Virginia, so I call her by both names often. A lot of times we call her Stelly—she has a lot of fun nicknames.

Your daughter Lucy Wrubel (Stella’s mother) is a local DJ; where did she get her love for music?
Our house was always full of good tunes—they were always cranking. We’ve always tried to have music in our lives. Stella will take piano at my house soon, isn’t that fun?

Favorite thing to do as a family?
We love to have formal dinners in the dining room. Everyone pitches in and works; one of the girls will make the place cards. After dinner we just leave everything and go into the den for a dance party.

Five words Stella would use to describe you.
Loving, boy she’s fun, red lips (we wear red lipstick together), YaYa and Boppy are so cool. (Oops, that’s more than five!)

Most helpful mommy/grandmother advice?
Never underestimate the power of your every move because they’re watching and learning from you.

Most memorable moment as a grandmother?
I think you become a grandmother over the years … It’s just like becoming a parent for the first time; you really don’t know what you’re doing. And when you’re a grandmother it’s just not born in you, I think you learn to develop it.  

Favorite game?
I’ve had a lifetime of Candy Land, and we also like checkers.

You are an avid reader and also writing your own novel. What’s a fun book you enjoy reading with your grandchildren?
One that really captured Stella’s interest in our reading books together is called The Napping House by Audrey Wood and I recommend it to every grandmother for 3- to 5-year-olds. It’s a colorful picture book that is just hilarious.

What lesson do you hope to pass along to your grandchildren?
Go for it. Be all you can be. Learn new things. Continue our family in a great tradition of work and play. Be something. Care for people. Be kind, make memories and have fun!

What’s your “Yaya” philosophy?
Try to be an example, to teach, to play, to have time to listen and to be there for them. Be their biggest advocate.