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Revisit, Renew, Refresh

No, this is not a self-help post written by some all-knowing guru who has it all together and is about to give you advice that will open the door to a brand new and more fulfilling life. (If you come across that particular blog post, feel free to forward me the link.) I am here to tell you how to save and rebuild an ostrich.

If you have been following our ostrich saga, you will know that I set a personal record by convincing Little Man to wear the same Halloween costume for three years in a row. I had my reasons, one of which being that it took some good old-fashioned elbow grease to make the costume in the first place, and I am rather proud of it. It is also absolutely hysterical and has garnished somewhat of a cult following. How to Build an Ostrich

When the second year rolled around, he was thrilled to don it again, despite some initial reluctance, after I added wings that could move and legs that bent the correct ostrich way. The third year that he wore it had to do with elbows rather than elbow grease. Namely, I broke my elbow in September and was unable to make the costume he wanted to wear that year.

We moved this past year, so nobody in this new neighborhood (in a new state) has met the Halloween ostrich (who, I just realized, I have managed to slight by not giving him an official name. Feel free to speak up and suggest some names when you finish reading). That said, sadly, they will not be meeting Mr. Ostrich (seriously, I need some help naming him) this Halloween. Though, the kids who come directly to our door most likely will…

Anyhow, as I mentioned, we recently moved. We have moved twice in the last three years. One of the upsides of moving has been the need to go lean, the opportunity to sift through our things and to shed the excess weight. Sometimes there may be disagreements on what constitutes excess weight. And, sometimes new purpose can be given to move items out of the “excess weight” category. Jeff, for example, has been eyed several times. Don’t worry, though, I will forever go to bat for Jeff, who just so happens to be very good friends with the ostrich in question.

It looked like the ostrich costume might end up on the chopping block this past move, and again when we were emptying the storage unit we rented while we unpacked. It is understandable. Little Man is too tall to comfortably fit inside the ostrich, thanks to a huge growth spurt. And, it is a somewhat bulky and challenging item to store. It can’t be folded, hung in a closet, or even put into the trunk that I have used for other costumes I adore (like the squid Little Man wore when he was 6).

My brain went into overdrive thinking of ways to save the ostrich costume. “Why not donate it?” you might ask. Well, it needs to be worn in a particular way, and since it is made from chicken wire, wearing it incorrectly could result in some nasty scratches. Let’s just say that it was custom-made for Little Man to wear with my supervision. Were I to make one for someone else, I would use a completely different technique. So, with donation out of the question, it was a matter of life or disposal.

This is what I came up with: if Little Man is too tall to be in the ostrich, why not move him to on the ostrich. In other words, I settled on a plan to convert him from ostrich to ostrich jockey. After many hours of contemplation, I bit my lip, took out my heavy-duty scissors, and hoped for the best. I didn’t want to completely eliminate the possibility of making the ostrich whole again in the future, so instead of cutting out a hole in his back, I made an incision straight down a portion of the center of his back. Then, I essentially made double doors by cutting two perpendicular lines: one at each end of the initial cut. In that way, I could push down into the ostrich and fold his existing back to each side inside the costume. And, in the future, it wouldn’t be too difficult to fold the sides back out to make him whole once more, if desired. This also limited the exposed chicken wire to the front and the back of the new hole.

I was next faced with two dilemmas: (1) how to add legs to the outside to make it look like the person in the ostrich was actually on the ostrich, and, more importantly, (2) how to make it all comfortably wearable. In the spirit of that horrible saying involving birds and stones, I solved the issues together.

More than a few times while packing and unpacking my belongings, I had contemplated getting rid of an old pair of jean overalls that had traveled the world with me since college. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I knew I wasn’t going to be wearing them again, but there were some pretty good memories attached to those overalls… Well, I marched into the closet, took the overalls, held them up and told them, “this is your moment! This is the ending that will incorporate you into family memories for years to come!” And the dog, who essentially follows me everywhere, looked up at me and shared my excitement.

Long story short-ish, I cut the crotch out of the overalls and sewed them to the open “door” on the top of the ostrich. After adding some stuffing to fill out the legs, I sewed an old canvas hightop sneaker to each leg and called it a day.

Now, mind you, Little Man will not be wearing the ostrich costume this year, though he has happily modeled it for me. Though he was too tall to fit into the original costume, he is too short for Ostrich 3.0. He will need to do a little more growing before the ostrich part of the new costume has more size-appropriate legs. I give it a year or two at his current growth rate. In the meantime, I will be taking up the ostrich mantel and wearing it while passing out candy. And, perhaps, there will be pictures to follow…

One could draw some meaningful conclusions about reusing and recycling, or perhaps allude to the fact that there are some things that follow us through the years, taking on new meaning as we grow. But, for now I would simply like to wish all you The Moon, The Sun, and Little Man followers a wonderful Halloween!

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