To Amelia with Love

Posted on July 8th, 2011 by Tonia 22 Comments

Our beautiful niece Amelia just turned one. She is the first child to be born to any of our siblings, and we are very gung-ho about being Auntie and Uncle. It’s pretty exciting.

When I was a baby, my parents made me wooden toys. They were great to chew on, throw, and bang against each other. They don’t leach any toxins over time {unlike plastic toys}, and besides teeth marks they stay in great shape for long enough to pass down to younger generations. And they don’t sit in a landfill for thousands of years before they deteriorate.

Hence, we decided that Amelia should get a wooden toy from us for her accomplishment of being alive for a whole year. And since she is currently obsessed with animals and the sounds they make, the toy definitely needed to involve animals.

So we started with just a regular old piece of maple…

We drew simple animal shapes on a piece of paper, cut them out, and traced them onto the wood. Mike then cut the shapes out of the wood using the skill-saw.

It took a long time…but it was fun to see the little guys “coming to life”.

I sanded down each piece so all the edges were smooth and round…

And we used a wood-burner to add eyes and noses.

And painted them with kid-safe watercolors.

And polished and buffed them with a kid-safe finish {beeswax and olive oil melted and mixed together}. They sat and dried overnight, and were done!

Baaaah, neeiiiigghhh, oink, kaka-doodle-doo, moooo, and woof!

Happy Birthday, little girl! We love you!


  1. Janet says:

    Oh my goodness that is awesome!!!! My sister-in-law runs a toy store ( that is focused on *real* toys, she would love this!

  2. Patricia says:

    What an amazing gift!! I’m sure it will be treasured always.

  3. Kara says:

    Oh my goodness!! This is amazing :) You should make some of these to sell … Winter’s turning 4 soon … just saying :) Taking orders?

  4. Franziska says:

    This is simply fantastic! It looks perfect, there’s not a single fault to find!! I can’t believe what I see (no exaggeration), you must be really, really gifted.
    I think, this is a toy you can grow old with and hand down to generations to come.
    (and I agree with Janet: every owner of a toy store would doubtless love it)

  5. This is unbelievable. I am in awe! I have many wooden toys for my children and they are by far the most popular things to play with! You and your husband did a gorgeous job creating these. What a treasure for her to have for her entire life!

    Gorgeous work!

    Crafty Hugs!

  6. Cathy Schroeder says:

    Beautiful job Mike and TOnia. That dog looks suspiciously like Charlie, the poor child will think all dogs are weiner dogs! What a wonderful present. Hint Hint, you will be getting a very special present when you are celebrating your one year of married life, I just don’t have a blog to post pictures on!

  7. Christine says:

    What a totally awesome gift! I am new to your blog (I can thank Joshua Becker at for that!) and am so inspired by you. Thank you so much for your wonderful posts!

  8. FMIL says:

    Oh, my goodness! So, SO CUTE! My eyes are moist, imagining Amelia’s reaction to your awesome, filled-with-love gift, and thinking about the wonderful memories to be made. She is, without a doubt, a lucky girl to be given such a treasure!

  9. Alex Mourousias says:

    There’s a brand called Melissa &Doug that makes wooden toys, this looks just like some of their products.

    Also, I’m pretty sure it’s spelled “cock-a-doodle-doo”. You’re welcome.

  10. Tonia says:

    Thank you all for the kind compliments!! It was a very fun project- mostly because we were imagining Amelia playing with it the whole time we worked on it.
    @Alex: I like the kaka/poop reference in my spelling better! But thanks for the suggestion. 😉

  11. Laura says:

    that is a really gorgeous present!!

  12. Terry says:

    What a sweet present! She will treasure it all her life, and have lots of good stories to tell about her aunt and uncle who made it!

  13. Erin says:

    That is totally amazing, the animals are beautiful and the finish looks so soft, you just want to play with them!

    Perfect gift 😀

  14. Devin says:

    Love this! I have often wondered how to go about making kid-safe wooden toys, I am totally going to have to try the olive oil/beeswax thing! Mark and I have three nieces and nephews on his side, with one more on the way, and it is SOOO fun. Christmas time gets a little crazy, since I want to make about a million things for them.

    I love the inscription on the back, what a treasure for the birthday girl!

  15. Keira says:

    Oh Tonia, these are so adorable! What a labor of love… You two did a fantastic job!

  16. Sister Laura says:

    Tonia and Michael,
    This was such a thoughtful gift and Amelia LOVES it! We took video of when we gave it to her, which we will share with you. She carries those animals around like they are treasures! Thank you soooo much! And Amelia said to tell you, “da-doo!” :)
    Love you guys,

  17. Caitlyn says:

    wow! nice job you guys! wonderful work

  18. Brooke says:

    That is definitely the cutest puzzle I have ever seen.

  19. Awesome! Can I put in a request for two boys who’s first birthday is coming up in October? 😉

  20. […] mommy snapped these pictures of her enjoying the toy we made. This is what we call a day-brightener. There’s no chance in being crabby […]

  21. […] To Amelia with Love got the most comments I have ever had. It was a very fun gift to make and give, and I’m thrilled that we maybe inspired you guys to make gifts for your loved ones. Everyone loves a homemade gift over a purchased one ANY day! Speaking of which, she did love it. […]

  22. […] We made a little wooden barn for Christmas for our niece Amelia, so she can play with her wooden animals in it. She loved […]

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