Where, oh where, oh where, have I been lately?? Well, at the ball fields, mostly. And when I haven’t been there, every other free moment these past few weeks has been spent planning and preparing a secret surprise sweet sixteen party for R-girl.

birthday table | shorts and longs

See, a few weeks ago R-girl mentioned she might want to do a vintage picnic for her 16th birthday party.

With paper straws.

I thought that sounded absolutely lovely and then I thought, wait, how lucky am I to have a daughter who wants something right up my alley for her 16th birthday??! and after that I thought, let’s make this even a little bit more fun.

So I said, “Hmmmm. We’ll see about that.”

I knew she might suspect something was up, what with me not saying anything about whether or not we were having a celebration for her special birthday, but she didn’t know when or where or if for sure she’d be surprised. And, fortunately, I had several stellar liars keeping her off guard and helping me orchestrate the madness.

And also 11 adorable girlfriends, whom I loaded up and drove across the border to Hudson, Wisconsin.

surprisers | shorts and longs

We arrived just 20 minutes before R-girl, who showed up thinking she was meeting clients for a photo shoot.

Until she stumbled upon this.

birthday table 3 | shorts and longs

birthday table 2 | shorts and longs

soda pop | shorts and longs

vintage picnic 3 | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk copy

vintage picnic 2 | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk

vintage picnic 1 | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk

vintage picnic 5 | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk

vintage picnic 6 | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk

picnic blanket 1 | shorts and longs

sweet 16 gift | shorts and longsAnd from there, the smiling didn’t stop. Especially when R-girl received the camera lens she has been saving for and dreaming of for months.

birthday gifts | shorts and longs

The rest of these pictures are evidence of what the girl can do behind the lens. Even when she’s in front of the camera, she’s the one who directed the shots. AND she edited all of these photos brilliantly.

smiles and jars | shorts and longs

framed fun 5 | shorts and longs

mustache girls 1 | shorts and longs

framed fun 6 | shorts and longs

framed fun 4 | shorts and longs

mustache girls 2 | shorts and longs

framed fun 3 | shorts and longsballoons | shorts and longsThese girls had no idea how adorable they were, walking around town.

walking balloon | shorts and longs

balloon and frame | shorts and longs

framed fun 2 | shorts and longs

framed fun | shorts and longs

Oh, hey, by the way. I did take those last two picture-frame photos all on my own. Not bad, huh? I saw the moment and I laid right down on the cobblestones to grab it. What do you think?

jumping for joy | shorts and longsYeah, me too.

silly face R-girl | shorts and longs


My sweet, silly, smart, sassy, simply wonderful daughter.

What, oh what, would I do without you?

There is no other you in this whole wide world, and I’m so lucky to have had 16 years of moments with the you you are.

R-girl my love | shorts and longs copy

I love, love, love you.

Forever and always and then some.

Happy birthday, sweet pea!!



  • Julie

    Thanks, Alison! It’s a Canon 50mm 1.4. Are you a Canon girl?

  • Alison

    That looks and sounds like a dream birthday. How lucky she is to have such thoughtful parents. What sort of lens is it?

  • Jenni

    Love it!!! What a great way to celebrate Alex’s birthday 🙂

  • Molly

    A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E!!! What a lovely day, party, girl, and mom!

  • Julie

    Thanks, Lora – Do you recognize your checkered tablecloths in the baskets? And the cute vintage folding chairs too!

  • Lora

    What a beautiful surprise and a special memory! What a blessing from above that she shares your style and interests, and you can enjoy vintage goodness together! Such Fun! Love the photos!

  • Marianne

    Gma here….and I am totally in awe of what a wonderful birthday for you Alex! Remembering so vividly 16 years ago today where I was, what I was doing while waiting for your arrival and the awesome way your dear Mom broke the news of your upcoming arrival months before! You are our first grandchild and always will be very special! And your Mom — what could make a mother more joyful that a daughter with such joy at being a MOM!

  • Aunnie

    AMAZING. I’m absolutely in love with this whole post. Not at all surprised that the talent runs that deep in this family. 🙂 Look forward to more pictures!

    Love from Ghana,

  • Natalie

    Best sweet sixteen surprise party ever! Well done – you. Looks like the sweet, sassy birthday R-girl even enjoyed herself, just a bit. 🙂 Love the photos (especially the ones in the frame)!


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