Gift Idea: A Custom Wooden House Replica For Mom & Dad

As of last week, my parents officially live in Richmond. This rocks for several reasons (free babysitting) so we’re excited to have them (as free babysitters) just about 15 minutes down the road (close enough to easily babysit for free). Plus, you’ll probably get some peeks at their new digs as they settle in (between babysitting jobs) and as we help them tackle some projects around their house (perhaps in exchange for all of the free babysitting). And if you follow us on Flickr, you’ve noticed that we wasted no time breaking in their community pool as soon as the moving truck was returned:

Three days after closing on their new house, my parents also celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary (days before my mom had a birthday- May’s a busy month for us celebration-wise). Since 39 years doesn’t have an assigned anniversary gift theme (35th is coral or jade and 40th is ruby), my sisters and I planned something to commemorate the 32 years they spent at their old house (seen below). This was in addition to the painting we gave them last month as moving gift.

My mom has always collected “The Cat’s Meow” keepsakes, which are small wooden blocks cut and painted to represent specific buildings, landmarks, and even people. My mom is particularly fond of the meaningful ones that represent places that are special to her – like the Dolles taffy shop in Rehoboth Beach, DE (our traditional family vacation spot) or the West Virginia State Capitol (her home state). So when I discovered that they accepted custom orders, we jumped at the chance to commission this:

Using the photo above of the house, they created this custom wood block of my parents’ place. It’s a service they call “My World” and it took roughly six weeks and was about $99 for two (we got one for their new Richmond house & one for their beach house). Hundred dollar gifts are kind of the sweet spot for us kids since there are four of us (and we each toss in $25). Oh and do you see that little black cat sitting in the window? That’s in every figurine that they make (it’s their signature) but it acts as the perfect stand-in for our family’s black cat named Duncan (who now lives with my little sister Carrie).

They did a great job with it (though it’s a bit bluer than in real life – it’s actually grey – but maybe our photo is to blame for that). They even let you customize a message for the back. Their standard collection usually includes the name of the place and some historical facts, so I wrote something to sorta summarize the “history” of their house.

In case you don’t feel like squinting – it reads:

This lovely residence in Burke, Virginia became home to Tom and Kathy Petersik in 1979. Their four children, Katie, Emily, John and Carrie, loved growing up here – from playing with the other neighborhood kids in the cul-de-sac to eventually pushing their own children on the swings behind the house. In their 32 years here, [their street number] played host to Christmas mornings on the stairs, Easter eggs hunts in the backyard, and countless family feasts.

(To explain, we had a tradition of making the kids gather on the steps on Christmas morning before running to open presents. We didn’t actually try to open gifts precariously crammed onto the staircase.)

As we hoped, the two wooden replicas of their former home were a big hit with my parents (who opened them this weekend while we were at the beach). I think they’re excited to have this small reminder of their “kid-raising” house to display at their new “grandkid-babysitting” home (my words, not theirs).


  1. Colleen says


    And I’m from Springfield (but now relocated in Central VA). But a small high five to the “703”. :). It is a fabulous area to grow up in.

  2. says

    that’s awesome! and if your mom is as sentimental as mine, she bawled her eyes out when she opened it.
    very sweet of you guys to think of that!

  3. Lesley says

    That is so sweet! My parents just celebrated their 40th. My 2 sisters and I ( and 3 son in laws) got to split up the cost also. We surprised them with a night away at a historic hotel in a nearby city and we enlarged their wedding photos and put them to music on a CD.( something they didn’t have back in 1971). I love this idea for them for Christmas. Have a great weekend!

  4. says

    That’s one of the coolest gift ideas I’ve seen in a long while – just bookmarked it. Thank you for sharing and congrats on the babysitting ;-)

  5. KR says

    That is a really thoughtful and sweet gift.. I wish I had thought of something like that when my parents moved last year. Great idea!

  6. says

    So awesome that your parents now live so close! That sounds like the perfect arrangement, I hope that my parents are that close to me when I have kids! Also that figurine is beautiful, what a fabulous idea for a present.

  7. says

    What an incredibly thoughtful gift! Love it! My parents gave the house we grew up in to my little brother. He’s done a ton to it, but I’ll have to dig up an old pic and have a little wooden block house made for my parents. Incidentally, there’s 4 of us, too. 3 girls, then little bro. Thanks for sharing.

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