It’s All Fun & Games Until a Chinchilla Gets Loose

Dolittle turned 8 this week, and we threw an animal-themed party for her.

We made the jungle decorations ourselves. Vines out of paper grocery sacks and leaves from green paper. The butterflies were a super cheap clearance deal at Michael’s, where I also bought a big stack of animal print papers to use as other decor. I can be crafty when I wanna be.

I thought about getting all Pinteresty and creative with the food, but the decorations and cake pretty much fulfilled all of my DIY desires, so we used the animal print paper as placemats and served a simple lunch of Dolittle’s faves.

Her “faves,” by the way, included Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles. I don’t buy flavored Ruffles. Like, ever. I’m more of a natural, no-chemical Kettle Chip kind of girl. But Dolittle got a taste of the demon Ruffles from one of the neighbor kids a few months ago, and hounded me relentlessly to buy them every time we went to the store. I finally broke down and said I would buy them ONCE, for her birthday party. Someday I’ll explain to her how much it pained me to put those delicious bags of pure evil in my grocery cart.

This photo really sums up Dolittle’s party. Animals everywhere, gooey-chocolatey boss of a cake (if I do say so), and Dolittle shoving Ruffles in her mouth with one hand while raising the other for some game the kids made up.

That’s not quite all, though.

A couple of months ago, Groupon came out with a half-off deal for Hedgehog Hannah – a live animal show that comes to your house. I’m not usually one to throw elaborate birthday parties, but with the half-off deal and Dolittle’s insatiable appetite for all things animal, we decided to make this party extra special. Plus, did you see that I made the decor? And the boss-of-a-cake? With my own two hands? Did I mention that? Super cheap. So it all balanced out.

Our Groupon was for a 1-hour show with 8 animals. But the lady showed up with 13 animals because she had a longer show after ours and it was too hot for the extra critters to stay in the car. So we got an even sweeter deal. BOOM! I love me a great bargain.

So, the first animal she brought out was Hannah the Hedgehog. Super cute. Tinier than I would have expected.

That lady tentatively touching the hedgehog? That’s one of my absolute dearest friends and fellow homeschool moms, P-Dids, a.k.a. LakeMom, a.k.a. Big Wussie When It Comes to Animals. She did okay with the hedgehog. But this photo will inform some of the later ones, where I have a great deal of fun at her expense. (What are friends with fabulous senses of humor for, if not to mock mercilessly?)
Next up came the reptiles. First, the bearded dragon.
He was pretty cute. The kids were psyched. P-Dids scooted a little closer to the exit.
Even cuter was Iggy the Iguana. My brother had an iguana for a while. It would run directly AT me every time I came into his apartment. Only at me, nobody else. I hated that thing. This guy was pretty cool, though.
He did like to climb all over the lady, though. I bet he would’ve run at me if he’d had the chance.
Next came the monitor lizard. He kept sticking out his forked tongue, which was kind of cool and kind of creepy.

I think at this point P-Dids had retired to the back porch. Probably good, since our next guest was this lovely little boa constrictor.

The lady was apparently going to bring her enormous Burmese python, but it’s shedding right now. Darn.

The kid in the pic below is P-Dids’ son.

And here’s Wussie P-Dids, out on the porch, watching her son hold the snake through the window.

When MY kid had a boa constrictor wrapped around HER neck, you didn’t see ME hiding on the porch. I was taking PICTURES. I’m SUCH a better mom.

Um . . . yeah . . . that photo might be a little out of focus because my hands might have been a little shaky because I might have a wee bit of an issue with snakes and other freakish creatures that move without limbs. Mentally, I was out on the porch, too. (Love you, P-Dids!)

The ball python was a little better, since she was smaller and a bit freaked by the kids, so she kept herself in a ball the whole time they held her.

BoyWonder was all about the animals. He didn’t shy away from a single one.

Not Big Fat Tortoise.

Not Big Hairy Tarantula (who stayed in the box, thankfully).

Not even Honking Black Scorpion. Apparently this one would only hurt like a bee sting if it stung you. It’s the little ones like we had in Phoenix that do the real damage. I took the lady’s word for it.

That was the end of the creepy crawlies. Next came the cuddly cuties, and with them came P-Dids from the porch.

To her credit, there were a few of the kids who were equally as squeamish, and who spent a good chunk of the show either on top of the couch or out in the school room. We can’t all be Dolittles.

Our girls have been angling for a rabbit, so when Molly the bunny came out they were both super giddy.

Frank the Ferret was supposed to yawn when the lady held him like this, but he didn’t feel like performing.

I’ve always rather liked ferrets. They’re like cute little weasels.

And then the real fun began. Have you ever seen a chinchilla? I’d heard of one, but I had no idea they were SO SO cute. And crazy soft. Softer than the bunny.

She was a bit skitterish, though, so the lady didn’t have the kids hold her. She said she tended to jump when she got nervous.

And apparently the little bugger decided to demonstrate, because shortly after that announcement, SHE JUMPED RIGHT OUT OF THE LADY’S ARMS AND SCURRIED UNDER OUR LIVING ROOM CHAIR.

You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a room with 11 kids and P-Dids with a wild animal on the loose. Truly a sight to see. And hear.

Havarti came to the rescue and lifted the chair so the lady could get to the poor creature. Unfortunately, the chair was right next to the animal bins, and a pile of them went toppling over – the chinchilla one (which was, thankfully, empty), poor Frank the Ferret, and sweet little Molly the Bunny.

This was the point at which, if I were a better blogger, I would have snapped photos of the chinchilla hiding under the chair and the bins of creatures that had just had the ride of their lives. But I didn’t. I was in more of a “Holy cowpies, there’s a chinchilla running wild in my living room!” state of mind.

I just got a shot of Havarti setting the chair back down and the chinchilla safe in the lady’s arms again. And there went my future as a photojournalist. Oh well.

The final cuddly treat was something I’d only seen the name of but probably couldn’t have spotted in a line-up.

That is a coatimundi. It was a quick little bugger, hence the fuzzy pics. And he was too new to the show to be held. Awfully adorable, though. Looks like a mix between a racoon and a bear. I kinda want one.

It was a cool show. At the end, Dolittle, so proud of the real animals we do have, insisted on bringing out our rat, Midnight, to show the animal lady. She was impressed. Then she said she would be snake food in her house.

Time for animal lady to go.

And time for mommy to set the house on fire with her boss-cake! Here was the cake before:

The idea was that the animals were around a campfire or council fire or something equally cool. I put the candles in a small circle in the middle, thinking that would be sort of campfire-esque when they were lit.

I didn’t expect the huge bonfire that erupted. Where did those birthday candles come from??

The kids started singing “Happy Birthday” while I frantically waved them on to sing faster. I had promised Dolittle that the birthday candles were too far from the animals to actually touch them or melt them. I wasn’t aware that I had mistaken birthday candles for BLOWTORCHES. Sheesh.

It all turned out fine.

I won’t go through all the gifts, but I did want to preserve this sweet sisterly moment. The Muse made Dolittle a handmade card, which we all wrote notes in (even BoyWonder, who dictated his message to The Muse to write down).

And then she gave Dolittle this cool little fold-out play scene she’d made for her to use with her plastic animals. Such a thoughtful gift, totally from The Muse’s own imagination. Dolittle loved it. 🙂

Almost as much as she loved this big stuffy. Dolittle has more stuffed animals than Toys R Us, and she actually plays with them all. No animal toy is ever wasted on this kid.

Finally, we ended the party with a rain dance, as it was the first significant rain we’ve had in weeks and weeks. The kids actually spontaneously applauded as soon as it started raining, then ran outside to revel in it.

It was truly a day all about nature – our Dolittle’s domain. Happy Birthday, lil’ darlin.

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 8

  1. OMYGOODNESS! Loved the red-tail boa!! What gorgeous colors… We had a Peruvian red tail (there are two common to the pet trade- Columbians tend to have slightly less bright and sharp markings than the Peruvians. I’d hazard a guess to say that lady has a Peruvian like our Angel was.) She was 7 feet long, about half grown, and snippy. lol And that beautiful ball! What unusual markings. He’s gorgeous. They’re such sweet babies.

    I’d be with your friend on the porch for the bugs. Shaking a scorpion out of your boot in the pre-dawn hours and being informed that it could kill with its sting leaves a gal kind of leery about critters like that. lol 20 years later and I still don’t like the buggers.

    Happy birthday, Doolittle. Glad to see it was such an awesome day. Way to go, Mom. <3

  2. Thank you so much for this. I bought the groupon deal as well and have been frantically looking for any proof that the show is real. There is no reviews anywhere ! But thank you it looks like you had a lot of fun !


  3. OH my gosh, what an awesome journey you took me on! I loved it. What an awesome party. The candles made me laugh 🙂

  4. What a great documentation of the party. It was so fun (and funny!) all captured on film and in words. I loved how the kids really responded to the rain at the end. What a special memory for the birthday girl! We had a wonderful time!

  5. Hey Annie! This was completely awesome, start to finish. You guys rock! 🙂 When you next come to WA/ID (note I say “when”, not “if”) my girls will show yours our bunny colony. We are up to 7 resident bunnies, with three babies that are all scheduled to go to new homes soon; and possibly (probably) more on the way as SOMEBODY accidentally left a cage door open and our little Netherland Dwarf doe paid a visit to the Netherland Dwarf buck in the cage next door…..hummm…

  6. So fun! My sister always does pretty low-key, homemade birthdays for my nephew, and they are so much fun and so much easier for everyone. We love it.

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