Love and Honor: Jonathan's Graduation!

After our champagne-heavy celebrations in Chicago, we hit the road bright and early to traverse the cornfields en route to Oxford, OH...time to really celebrate! Because what's more worthy of celebrating than the fact that a kid with this taste in interior design actually earned a degree? 

Almost as soon as we arrived in Oxford, Jonathan took us out on a quick tour of the local bar scene. I had never gone out in "the Ox Box" before, so this was a totally new (and yet shockingly familiar) experience for me! First stop: Brick Street, for "Beat the Clock:"

In my mind, the caption on the photo below would be something like this: 

Jonathan: "Mmmm, trash cans." 

Dad: "So THIS is where all my money has gone for the last four years..."

The entire thing felt so much like Notre Dame bars...I love the universality of a college dive bar. The sticky floors, the scent of stale beer and maybe a hint of last night's vomit, the bathroom graffiti...

After Beat the Clock, we dove into the mosh pit that was Broken Clock, where I sampled a drink called a Tropical Redskin and quickly switched back to gin. College Lizzie would've loved the Redskin. Adult Lizzie knew the Hawaiian-Punch flavor and lethal level of alcohol would ruin her entire weekend. 

Below: In which Schwegmans prove we don't mess around. 

We enjoyed a little more day-drinking, went to dinner at the restaurant where Jonathan bartended all year, and called it an early night, excited for the next day! 

The next day, which dawned FRIGIDLY cold. Em and I warmed up in the best way we knew how...I polished off a little white wine while she snagged a Smirnoff Ice out of the six-pack she'd bought in preparation for Icing Jonathan and his frat bros. 

Oh, the Pi Kapp boys. Gotta love a plethora of classic, classy graduation photos like these: 

They got at least one nice one, though! 

I'm also so in love with the photos of Jonny with Mom and Dad below. They are both so proud of him, as are Emily and me. It's crazy to think that our baby brother has graduated college...I'm going through one of those phases where I suddenly feel really, really old. 

The boys headed off to hit the bars before the big commencement ceremony, so we quickly followed suit. Nothing warms up a Schwegman on a cold day better than champagne, after all! Jodester made an innovative and cozy fashion choice before leaving Quarter Barrel...not going to lie, I was kind of jealous of the full-body afghan wrap thing she had going. 

We took our sweet time getting into the stadium because we stopped to buy more blankets (and maybe to have a snack. We have a weakness for concession stand hot dogs in our family.)...so this was the sight that greeted us as soon as we sat down: 

Please note the ominous clouds, and imagine them racing across the sky in 25-mph winds. I felt SO bad for all the female graduates in their sundresses and sandals...it was truly frigid out, and we were cold even bundled up in layers and under blankets. Many of the girls left the ceremony early...heck, most of the audience left early! 

Yeah. It was freezing. Quite the contrast from my graduation five years ago in 95-degree heat and full sun! 

Let's play "Where's Jonathan?" and then laugh at the fact that he's legit the only person turned around in this entire picture. It makes me so happy. 

The commencement speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, was fantastic. He's best-known as the originator of some of the most popular TEDtalks on the site, and his speech at the ceremony was equal parts passionate, irreverent and relevant. Easily the best of the three of ours (mine was Robert Gates, Secretary of the Defense...and Em's was Wil Haygood, who wrote "The Butler."). Watch Sir Ken's speech here if you have a spare half hour and a hankering for "live your dreams"-style inspiration with a twist. 

After the ceremony we all warmed up with hot coffees, courtesy of Papa Bear, and congratulated our graduate! 

Then it was time to head back to the guys' house for a huge barbecue with all the families. There was an obscene amount of baked goods, two kinds of pulled pork and about 30 pounds of macaroni and cheese...not to mention these pretty sweet sparkly glasses, courtesy of the Jodester! 

We hung around until about 9:00, when it quickly became clear the guys had places to go and Trashcans to drink. The next day, Sunday, was divisional ceremonies, and it was slightly warmer than Saturday, thank goodness! The guys started their day with a photoshoot at The Frat House Formerly Known As Pi Kapp...

....their frat is sadly no more for awhile due to some unfortunate allegations and...we'll say disputes. I blame the fact that they left their Christmas candy canes up until May. 

....their frat is sadly no more for awhile due to some unfortunate allegations and...we'll say disputes. I blame the fact that they left their Christmas candy canes up until May. 

We headed into the heart of campus for a quick stop to perform a Miami rite of passage...

...standing on The Seal! It's like going up the steps of the Main Building at Notre Dame...if you do it before you graduate, you never WILL graduate. Jonathan found it extremely bittersweet...

Until he was joined by sister Meems, and our two Miami graduates were united! 

We also took some stereotypically nice photos at the entrance to the university...

...and outside the Farmer School of Business...literally recreating the photo Jonathan took four years earlier on his admitted student visit! Can you believe how much he's grown up?

His divisional ceremony was short, sweet and so much fun to watch. I was incredibly impressed with how fast the name-reading ladies got through over 900 graduating business students!! 

Pi Kapp business majors with diplomas in hand! 

We headed into Cincy as soon as we were done with the ceremony to pop the last of our French champagne from last May and to enjoy a delicious pasta dinner at Sotto. The next morning, we moved Jonny D out of his sideways house and hit the road for the long drive back to Minneapolis.

As we were putting gas in the cars before leaving Oxford, Jonathan burst into the kind of gut-wrenching tears only new college graduates can understand. I teared up vicariously, because I remember that unique, bittersweet pain. That feeling of being on the verge of the next exciting phase of your life but knowing that THIS phase, getting to be young and selfish and naive and to explore and make mistakes and live to learn, was coming to a close. We hugged it out, headed out, and left Miami knowing that you never really leave your college...

To think in such a place, he led such a life. Congratulations, Jonny D! We are SO PROUD OF YOU and love you SO much!