A bit o’ Irish cheer.

Dear friends,

My St. Pat’s Day started early, ended late, and was chock full of Irish cheer.

I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people having a great time. Or wearing so much green. Even the animals were decked out.

I was jealous of this outfit. Next year I will plan better.

And I’m not sure what it takes to get an invitation to the roof party, but I intend to find out. Talk about a primo spot for the parade route.

Not long after I snapped this photo, the best street-side spots filled up. Six city blocks were packed like sardines.

Glad I’m not claustrophobic.

The more crowded it got, the more fun folks seemed to have. Check out this group:

There were floats galore. Two hours worth, actually. And lots of marchers. I haven’t a clue what these parade participants represent, do you?

A gorilla, a green-haired guy, Mario (?) and a gun-toting camo girl riding on a tatooed man — all splattered in blood. It made my brain hurt trying to ponder it all. I’m not that deep.

This guy was billed as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Clearly, they have cold beer in hell.

This one . . . I’m not sure. Three Humpmen of the Armageddon?

I had the most fun watching the spectators. There were plenty of sights to behold.

There’s nothing like a parade in a college town.  Something about the influence of carefree youth makes you want to kick up your heels and embrace the blarney, at least for one day.

With gratitude {for the opportunity to enjoy the best minor-holiday celebration ever},

Joan, who thinks she and Mr. Mom accessorized really well for the St. Pat’s gala

Cheers to nineteen.

Dear friends,

We had a party last night. Best I can tell, it was a hit.

As was the cake.

I got a little nervous about running out of cake when kids kept showing up, but my four-layer beauty fed the hungry teenagers with one piece to spare. Whew!

The whole evening made my heart full. I couldn’t have been happier that so many friends showed up to help Kate celebrate. It’s been a tough year for her as she noted on a recent Facebook post: Eighteen was one heck of a year for me, but I made it through it. Cheers to nineteen and all that it brings me!

Our new little town has welcomed us at every turn over the past several months, and the kids have been especially kind and friendly. My debt of gratitude grows every day with each new gesture of friendship.

With gratitude {for strength of family, resilient kids, and the gift of new friends, which is one of the best reasons of all to celebrate},

Joan, who impressed a kitchen full of teenagers while making Pioneer Woman’s Baked French Toast (for Sunday breakfast) with her one-handed egg cracking technique

Sweethearts and waffles.

Dear friends,

Here’s where I spent Saturday evening:

I didn’t go there to eat. I went to see the young man in the white shirt sitting at the counter.

And this group of girls.

It was Sweetheart Ball night in our little town. Remember the girl who sent this clever invitation to Parker? She’s the one in the silver dress on the far right.

They look pretty spiffy, don’t you think?

Parker and his date accompanied the other four girls to dinner at the Waffle House, then to the dance. (Apparently, it’s a popular thing here for girls and boys to go in groups, as well as in couples. I arrived late at the Waffle House and made the mistake of asking the other girls where their dates were. I’m not allowed to talk anymore.)

I was really disappointed I didn’t arrive in time for a waffle. Waffles make great Saturday night dinners. But I was busy snapping photos across town where Kate and her date and six other couples had gathered for a spaghetti dinner, hosted by the parents of Kate’s date.

Kate and her date look pretty fab, too.

You know what else I like about our new town? It’s apparently no big deal for girls to borrow dresses from each other. Kate’s wearing a borrowed dress, as were a few other girls in her group.  You gotta love a group of pragmatic teenage girls. (Of course, there are three big dances a year in this town. We’d all go broke buying a new dress for every dance.)

Kate’s friends are also very pragmatic about their feet.

She and her friend wore Toms (also borrowed).

I’d like to propose that if Toms are suitable footwear for sweetheart dances, they should be suitable for ladies wearing suits in offices. Would you make that a rule, please? My feet would bless you.

With gratitude {for Saturday night dances where waffles and exceptionally level-headed kids prevail},

Joan, who as she wrote this late Saturday night was still craving waffles but, sadly, had to settle for cinnamon toast because her waffle iron broke and she has yet to replace it

Take me back to Tulsa.

Dear friends,

Source: Wikipedia

I’m spending 24 hours in the land of my birth.  (In the words of Leon Russell, I’m in home sweet Oklahoma). I’ve made a whirlwind trip to Tulsa to help a friend celebrate a new job.

I’m making the most of my 24 hours: first I made a stop to see one of my dearest friends. She was the Matron of Honor in my wedding and I wouldn’t think of coming to Tulsa without popping in to see A.  It was a short stop, but we had time for a long hug, a glass of wine, and an hour of conversation.

Then I spent a long dinner with a group of former colleagues celebrating the transition of a member of our group. Ten of us got to together to toast C’s new job (and new pregnancy) and tell our favorite war stories from our memorable years together as a team.

Next, I stayed up late talking to another friend, catching up on all that has happened in J’s universe since I left town.

Saturday morning, I’m having two breakfasts with more friends, one early and one late, then I’m off to lunch with another dear friend that I’ve known since 5th grade.

Are you catching a theme here? It may only be 24 hours, but I’m luxuriating in friendship with women I’ve known forever it seems. It’s a much-needed dose of hearty laughter, warm hugs, and shared memories with a cadre of women who mean the world to me.  I can’t think of a better way to kick off February.

With gratitude {for dear friends who welcomed me home with open arms},

Joan, who, no matter where she lives, will always think the Tulsa skyline is the prettiest