Jan 13th 2015 05:44:05 pm

Kenneth Gunner Johnson!

January 8th, 2015 – 6:41 pm

7 pounds, 8.6 ounces

20 inches long








Wow. We are in love. Ken is already five days old an we’ve been having a magical time with him. (It is going too fast!) His birth was early, fast, and intense, but I’ll save that story for a future post. He is healthy and sweet and adorable. We are amazed and thrilled that he is ours.

If you want even more photos, you can see LOTS in Ken’s Flickr album.

4 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Feeling Happy, Kenneth, Pregnancy

Merry Christmas 2014

Dec 24th 2014 04:55:05 pm


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the soon-to-be FOUR Johnsons! (Rachel, Travis, Crusher, and BabyJ)

We are laying low this year in Brooklyn, just patiently waiting for our little New Year’s gift to arrive in a few weeks. 2015 should be the best year yet!


No Comments » Categories: Christmas, Family, Feeling Happy, holidays, Pregnancy

Rivers Edge International Film Festival

Nov 30th 2014 10:20:44 am


About three weeks ago, I traveled with my mom to Paducah, Kentucky, to attend the River’s Edge Film Festival with my grandma and aunts. This was the 10th year of the event. My grandma and aunts who live in Paducah have attended every year! Wow! This was my first time.


My mom and I missed the opening night (Thursday) of the festival, but it turns out that the premier screening of the big horror feature was sold out! There was a line to get in and my family didn’t even get seats with their full access passes. We also missed most of the first day of films since we were on the road driving into town… but don’t worry, we still saw a LOT of films!!


In total, I think we saw 27 different films over the course of Saturday and Sunday. Most of them were shorts, about 10-15 minutes in length, but many were features that ran over an hour. There were animated films, narrative fiction films, experimental films, a good amount of horror, and documentaries. Overall, the quality of the films exceeded my expectations. My favorites were the documentaries.

My top three film picks were:

  • Out of the Fire – A documentary about wood-firing potter, Kevin Crowe, working in rural Virginia. I love art documentaries, and this was particularly interesting to me because I got to do a tiny bit of wood-fired ceramics in high school. The film made the entire firing process seem like a party!
  • Wicker Kittens – A funny documentary all about competitive jigsaw puzzle teams competing at a winter festival in Minnesota. Who knew people were so into puzzles?!
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall – This was a documentary about a hospice program at the Iowa State Penitentiary. I am always intrigued by prison documentaries. Even though I know that the inmates are there for a reason, I can’t help but feel compassion toward them. Maybe I am a sucker. This film followed the final days of one inmate and the care he received from his fellow prisoners. This film won Best Documentary Short for the festival.

Check out all of the festival winners here.


It was a great trip. I basically just relaxed and enjoyed the time with family. Paducah is a really nice small city. I definitely suggest a visit if you are in the area. I didn’t get to visit the National Quilt Museum like I did during my last trip there, but I highly recommend it. There seems to be some type of art or culture event happening at any given time in Paducah. And of course, if you are there in early November, you’ve got to check out the Film Festival! (Despite the big sell-out on the first night, they could use a few more attendees throughout the event.)


2 Comments » Categories: Family, Movies, Travel


Oct 7th 2014 12:44:48 pm

(or, Making a Baby is Harder than I’d Hoped)


My background:

I guess I already had a feeling that I wasn’t the most fertile woman in the world. Travis and I have been having sex… for a long time. (We’ve been together for 16+ years.) We are smart and careful, so we doubled up on birth control (bc pill & condoms) for a long time. No reason why we should have gotten pregnant and we didn’t want to. We both went to grad school, moved across the country, bought a tiny house, had jobs, started a business. I went off the pill when I was 27. We kept using condoms most of the time and sort of decided to see what happened. Maybe I should have been more concerned that nothing happened. But then we moved to NY, lived (and ran a business) in a tiny apartment, trained for marathons, had fun. I don’t want to be the cliched “modern” woman, but even though I really want children, I thought I had more time. I probably should have been more concerned when my cycles shortened to 25 days, but the doctors said it was normal. I’ve never missed a period in my life. I’ve never been underweight. My body has never failed me. I thought I was as healthy as possible. But I guess I also knew I was pressing my luck. We all think we can wait forever.

In the end, my fertility struggles were very minimal compared to what many other women face, but I want to share my experience just in case it helps any other women to be proactive about their own fertility. Plus, it is so easy to forget things and I want to have my thoughts written down for my own personal record.


Starting the process:

So… 2012 was a huge running year for me… no time for pregnancy! But after completing the Goofy Challenge and Bermuda Triangle Challenge in January 2013, Travis and I decided to get down to the business of trying to make a baby. We weren’t entirely diligent at first, but by April I was tracking my cycles and focusing on fertile days. I started using ovulation kits in July to pinpoint my most fertile days. Still nothing was happening. I hated taking the pregnancy tests just to get a negative result and I also hated not knowing what I could plan for the future. Could I run a marathon in November? Or should I not sign up? Could I train for an IronMan? Or should I devote more of my energy to focusing on baby making? Should I apply for a new job? Should we plan that big trip to Europe? It felt like everything needed to be put on hold until we knew whether or not a baby would be coming in the near future…

Fertility check-up:

Since I wasn’t getting pregnant as quickly as I had assumed it would happen, I decided I should go get things checked out. On September 11th, 2013, I had my first appointment with a new Ob/Gyn, Dr. Flagg at Spring OB/Gyn. I really liked her (she graduated from KU Med just like my brother and sister-in-law!) and she suggested I start a “Fertility Check-list” of tests and screenings. It consisted of blood tests looking at my hormone levels at different times during my cycle (FSH, AMH, TSH, Prolactin, and Progesterone), a genetic screening, a pap smear looking for any STDs or other problems, and multiple ultrasounds at different parts of my cycle to observe ovulation. (Plus, a sperm check for Travis.) In all, I think it consisted of five or six separate doctor’s appointments over two months. Looking back now it doesn’t feel like it was so bad… BUT at the time I felt like it was a HUGE hassle and very invasive. Luckily, I have not experienced many health problems in my life, so any type of medical procedure seemed very tough at first. Blood draws and trans-vaginal ultrasounds are not exactly fun, especially when you are doing them nearly every week. Not to mention the time I had to take away from work to get to all of the appointments. My work and life schedule is very flexible, but I remember thinking that anyone with a high powered job would never be able to fit in all the tests!

Every one of the tests came back with great results… except the AMH (Anti-Müllerian Hormone) or “egg timer” test. It is supposed to help doctors determine the size of your egg supply. (It also could indicate a possibility for early menopause. Great.) My number (.72) came back so low for my age that Dr. Flagg suggested I make an appointment with a fertility specialist. Her high level of concern made me worried. But she also told me not to stress over it too much. Ha! She also suggested acupuncture. Yuck. I was not interested in acupuncture, but I took her advice anyway. There are some medical studies that show some correlations between acupuncture and increased fertility, so I felt I should give it a try. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything possible to increase my fertility chances. I didn’t want there to be any one thing that I could look back on and say “if I had just tried that maybe things would have worked.”

I took any and all fertility advice… some of the things I tried:
(FYI: I 100% believe in modern medicine and believe it is the #1 thing that ultimately allowed me to get pregnant… these other things were just supplements to my medical care.)

  • accupuncture – I went to multiple appointments at two well-reviewed (and expensive) places, here and here. I know many people find acupuncture helpful, but I did not enjoy it. I also couldn’t shake the feeling that it was a scam when they were constantly trying to up-sell me herbs. I stopped going when the practitioner told me my surgery would probably not work and that I needed to increase my acupuncture visits to supplement it.
  • reduce running and strenuous exercise – My doctors told me that running was fine as long as I kept it under 45 minutes, 3 times a week. My medical chart was marked “excessive exerciser” since I had been doing much more than that. I cut back considerably, but had a hard time giving up such a huge hobby. I still ran the Brooklyn Marathon in November. (The acupuncturists told me to cut out all exercise except yoga and let my body focus its energies on reproduction.)
  • yoga – Everyone suggested yoga to help with stress. I made a point to start going, but it is not my favorite…
  • rich foods – Both the acupuncturists and the doctors suggested eating whole milk and full-fat dairy products, eggs, organ meats, bone broth, and dark green leafy vegetables — anything with lots of iron and/or nutrients. I think that the dietary recommendations didn’t hurt, but they would probably be more beneficial to someone who is malnourished or underweight. That being said, I am still drinking whole milk!
  • no more toxins, i.e. coffee & alcohol – it was hard to give these two up and it took a while for me to reduce them to zero…
  • vitamins & supplements – I started taking CoQ10, Royal Jelly, and a DHA/Omega3 vitamin in addition to my regular pre-natal.
  • voodoo fertility ring – Ok, so no one actually suggested this, but I bought a glass ring in New Orleans that claimed to enhance fertility. At best, it is a benign tourist trinket. At worst, I am co-opting a religion that I know little about… but still… I haven’t taken it off for over a year!
  • “baby make-cation” – So many fertility guides recommend reducing stress as a fertility tip, and taking a “baby making vacation” is the ultimate step! I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but this one actually worked for us!

Fertility specialist help:

I have already talked about the difficulties of finding a doctor in NYC here. This is a huge city where many women put off having children for a long time… which means that fertility doctors are in HIGH demand. In November, I called one of Dr. Flagg’s recommended fertility doctors, Dr. Noyes at the NYU Fertility Center. Her office told me she didn’t have ANY appointments until March of 2014!! That was almost another six months of waiting! Gah. But in a miracle of miracles, the office called me back and said they had had a cancelation in early December and could I take the appointment? YES!

In the mean time, I had a final appointment and ultrasound at Spring Ob/Gyn… and they found a “structure” in my uterus. I guess it was something that they had noticed before that they thought would go away within a normal cycle, but it didn’t. They couldn’t tell me what it might be, but they suggested I make an appointment for sonohysterogram after I met with the fertility specialist. So many appointments! I was feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and sad. Thank goodness I had a close friend going through similar struggles at the same time. We would meet weekly to discuss our updates.


Thankfully, this is where the story starts getting good pretty fast… The fertility specialist, Dr. Noyes, immediately diagnosed me with a small uterine polyp at my first appointment. She said that even though it had mostly been too small to see in ultrasounds previously, it was probably preventing pregnancy for over a year. She booked me for surgery to remove it on January 14th, 2014.

I had never had surgery in a hospital before, so I was a little nervous about the general anesthesia… but it all went exceedingly well. I had almost no pain during or after. My period in January was a long and tough one, but otherwise I had no major side effects. At my check up appointment in February, Dr. Noyes said that my “fertility was enhanced” and that despite my low AMH number I should continue trying to get pregnant naturally until the summer. If it didn’t work she wanted me to start on a hormone protocol in May or June. I really didn’t want to do the hormones! Technically, I was diagnosed with infertility since I had been actively trying to get pregnant for a year without success. Boo.

Making a baby in Europe:

A lot of things lined up that allowed Travis and I to take our amazing month-long European vacation in April. It was an awesome experience. We had a wonderful, very romantic time… BabyJ was made the old-fashioned way somewhere in Italy. It almost feels too good to be true. I had decided not to track my cycles or use any type of ovulation kit while we were on the trip… we’d just have fun and see what happened! We had a lot of fun. I really can’t believe it worked. I feel very fortunate and thankful.



Reciting the facts of my brief, but scary encounter with fertility problems makes it all seem quick and matter-of-fact… but when I was actually going through it, it was all very upsetting and difficult. Going in for medical tests and then waiting for the results (which for all you know could be really bad news!) is very stressful. I felt isolated, uncertain, scared, and sad for a lot of 2013. I talked (and cried) with Travis and a few of my close friends a lot, but otherwise, I guess I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling. For my family, I didn’t want them to worry. And I kept thinking, “Hopefully, I’ll have good news next month. I’ll tell them the whole story then.” I guess I was also afraid of being judged for making what felt like the terrible decision of waiting too long to start a family.

Despite all the tears and fear, from my current perspective, I actually feel thankful to have gone through the experience. It greatly reinforced my desire to have children, and it has made me very mindful of and grateful for my current pregnancy experience. It also gave me some insight and compassion for the major struggles women can face when trying to start a family.

I wanted to share my experience for two reasons:

1- To prompt women who might be concerned about their fertility to be really proactive and go see their doctor asap. Medical stuff can be sucky, but it can also fix most problems! The sooner you start investigating the problems, the sooner they can be fixed! I was pregnant within seven months of first going to see my doctor.

2 - To show that people go through tough stuff, even if you don’t know it is happening at the time. During the last year I’ve known friends who have had major surgeries, lost loved ones, received a cancer diagnosis, had their children receive a cancer diagnosis, etc… so many things that are so much more difficult than what I experienced. And yet, many of them didn’t want to share their struggles with the world either. Don’t assume that anyone’s life is perfect. Everyone is facing tough stuff of some sort and could use some kindness.


I am so thankful and thrilled that my pregnancy is going well so far. BabyJ seems strong and healthy and I can’t wait to meet him! I don’t want to take anything for granted.

If you are going through fertility struggles, let me know if you have any questions. I am happy to discuss any details!

1 Comment » Categories: Family, Feeling Sad, Health, Pregnancy

Chelsea + Myles get married!

Aug 14th 2014 06:17:01 pm


Two weeks ago, Travis, Crusher and I were traveling to Kansas City to celebrate Chelsea and Myles’ wedding! It was a great trip and an absolutely wonderful wedding. We had a fabulous time with family… whom we hadn’t gone to visit in over a year!


We came ready to help out and were able to provide some assistance with the last minute wedding prep. I helped Chelsea and Kristen put together the favors, and Travis and I got the programs printed (the day before the big event – whew!). We also managed to fit in a Royals game and Bachelorette evening on the Plaza (seen above).


There was quite a bit of set up and decorating involved in the wedding. The Johnsons and their family and friends did a lot of work! The ceremony was outside, so we all helped move chairs out to the lawn. And then helpful guys (hi Seth!) moved many of them back in for the reception. I was worried about the amount of work involved, but everyone chipped in and it really went smoothly! I was very impressed. All of the decor was teal and pink and adorable. It was a really sweet and personal celebration.


Travis, Kristen, and I were the bride’s wedding party — the bride’s Best Man, Maid of Honor, and Matron of Honor. Very cute! It was very special to stand up with Chelsea and Myles as the said their vows.


Chelsea and Myles were very happy and I think they had a great day. It was really nice to get to know Myles a little bit better and see how good the two of them are together.


It was just a really fun, busy, family-filled weekend. It felt good to see everyone. I had been worried about hiding my pregnancy while we kept it a secret until after the wedding, but I don’t think too many people noticed anything. We’ll see how I look when the official photos come back!


We helped clean up the church after the wedding, which really went pretty quickly with lots of people helping out. On Sunday, there was a brunch for Chelsea & Myles, and then we took our two families out for dinner… to spill our big news! Everyone was really excited and happy. I was worried about stealing the wedding thunder, but Myles & Chelsea were really gracious and happy for us. It was an eventful weekend for the Johnsons, Lambles, and MCormicks!


Check out all of my photos in my Flickr Album!


1 Comment » Categories: Family, weddings

we have some big news…

Aug 7th 2014 01:01:36 pm



(Crusher is obviously thrilled.)


Also, this…


33 Comments » Categories: Family, Feeling Happy, love, Pregnancy

goodbye, 2013!

Dec 31st 2013 12:45:25 pm


Happy New Year’s Eve!! Another year down.

2013 wasn’t the year I was expecting, but I had a lot of good times and made some excellent memories. I have more big plans for 2014 and can’t wait to get started on them!

…but for now, here are some of my favorite blog posts from the past year:

My word for 2013 was sweetness, but it could have been RUN! The year started off with running… Travis and I ran the Goofy Challenge and the Bermuda Triangle Challenge back to back.

My birthday! I ran another marathon (my 8th!) and lost someone special to me.

Not much happened in March…

In April, I did a craft project.

Lots of running in May. Many half marathons and a few trail races.

I traveled in June, to Kansas to run the Color Run with the fam and to Portland to see Adam and Nina.

July was busy! Stephanie and Bill visited New York, I continued my Summer Run Streak, Travis and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary and went on a big date, and we ran the Boilermaker.

In August, I went camping, ate some cronuts, attended Blogshop, and did more running.

I was digging navy blue in September. I also finished my 101-day Run Streak and Reached the Beach.

October brought a sweet wedding, my dad’s first half marathon, and my fastest 5k – all in one big update.

Travis ran the NYC Marathon in November and the helped me run my fastest marathon ever in Brooklyn. Plus, Friendsgiving!

Travis got Lasik this month and we had a relaxing and lovely Christmas together in Brooklyn.


Travis and I are celebrating tonight with friends at a big prom party (a lot like last year!) What are your plans???

No Comments » Categories: Family, Friends, holidays, Online Life, running, Travis

love + light + peace

Dec 25th 2013 08:09:43 am


Merry Christmas!!

Travis and I are in Brooklyn this year. We are missing our families, but we are very thankful that we get to spend so much fun time together. …and with Crusher, of course!

We’ve tried our best to have a NYC Christmas this year. We went to a Broadway play, saw the Rockefeller Christmas tree, bought our own real tree for our apartment, went shopping and to see Santa at Bloomingdales, and went to a joy and peace-filled Christmas Eve service last night. It has been a good, quiet season.


We hope you have a wonderful holiday and beautiful end to 2013. Crusher hopes he doesn’t have to wear anymore Christmas jammies!


No Comments » Categories: Christmas, Family, Feeling Happy, holidays, love

so many running updates

Oct 31st 2013 04:02:43 pm

Happy Halloween!! But this isn’t a Halloween post… it is about running. Of course. It is always about running.


I completed so many races in the beginning of 2013 that I really burned myself out… spring and summer were not great running seasons for me, but I’ve gradually been working myself back into the groove. Recently, I’ve been surprised to realize that I am actually feeling pretty good. And, I have been doing some fairly successful marathon training on my own. I completed two solid long runs this month, including a solo 20 miler that went exceptionally well… and not just because I made pit stops for a donut AND a cupcake.

I am feeling unexpectedly excellent. Running is on my good side for now. Which is handy, because there is a lot of fun, running-related stuff happening…


Early this month, one of my best and sweetest running friends (and Warrior van-mate), Sarah, got married to her equally sweet (he got me a signed photo of Patrick Stewart!) boyfriend-now-husband, Lawrence. It was a beautiful, fun, huge, family wedding and it was such a thrill to be invited. The food was amazing and the entire event was full of cute, personal touches. Sarah and Lawrence made race bibs for their table seating cards! So clever and fun! Such a great night. Travis and I made good use of the party photo booth with our fellow running Warriors.


My dad ran his first official half marathon on October 19th. Very cool! With the covert help of my brothers, I flew home to surprise him on the course. Aaron, Seth, Mom, and I had signs and we were yelling our head’s off, but somehow we missed Dad at the start of the race. Good thing we saw him at Mile 3 near the Liberty Memorial. He stopped and gave me a hug. I think he was genuinely surprised to see me. Success! I met him again at Mile 11 and ran the last 2 miles with him and his kind friend, Todd. Dad was tired at the end, but he ran a very strong race. Now he has his sights set on a full marathon!

See all my photos from my Kansas City trip HERE.


Above is my current Brooklyn Team in Training. We are all participating in the “Endless Summer” (winter) season and training for either the Bermuda or New Orleans Half Marathon. I’m Social Captain again this season, and although our group is small, it is awesome. Last night we had a “Socktober” costume contest and a 5k test. I ran (maybe) my fastest 5k ever (sub 9min/miles, but still didn’t break 28 minutes – boo) and felt great. Travis was sweet and paced me the whole way. I run my best races when he helps me.


With the successful 20 mile run and the strong 5k under my belt, I feel confident enough to publicly admit that I am running the Brooklyn Marathon on November 17th. The race is entirely in Prospect Park and it will be challenging… but I think I am going to take it seriously. I have no idea whether I can PR, but you never know what will happen… perhaps it will be MY race.


In even BIGGER news… Travis is running the NYC Marathon on Sunday! Wow. It his first NYC, but his 6th marathon. He has been training extremely hard and I think he is going to have an amazing race. I plan to cheer for him at three points on the route. He is Bib #22006 (starting in Blue Wave #2, Corral #22). You can track him by downloading the free iPhone app.

NYC Marathon Day is one of my very favorite days in the city. I was devastated by Hurricane Sandy last year and the cancellation of the race. What a sad time… But this year is going to be great! I am volunteering at the Team in Training booth at the Expo all afternoon tomorrow – come see me! – and I am an official #INGNYCMarathon Social Reporter. You can follow me as @rljart and @SCBkRunners on Twitter and as @rljart on Instagram. Be prepared for a LOT of marathon updates! (You can also search for the #ingnycm hashtag to get the newest marathon-related tweets.)

Will you be watching the NYC Marathon? What other fall events are you excited for?

1 Comment » Categories: Exercise, Family, Friends, running, Travis, weddings

exploring the city with stephanie & bill

Jul 1st 2013 12:16:45 pm

New York City is a crazy place. I tend to forget that during my day-to-day life in Brooklyn. I was reminded this week how fun, exciting, and exhausting the city can be!

My cousin, Stephanie, and her husband, Bill, came for a four-day visit last week and we tried to hit up all the big tourist spots. There is so much to see, and do, and EAT in the city, it is hard to pick and choose the best stuff… while also trying to balance your visit so that you don’t end up completely exhausted.

New York City requires quite a bit of walking (and plenty of stairs) which can be overwhelming for out-of-town visitors. I seem to wear out all of our visiting guests, but Stephanie and Bill were great sports!

Our NYC adventure included: walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, checking out Chinatown, Little Italy, and Soho, trying cupcakes at Baked by Melissa, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, and Crumbs, buying candy in the Lower East Side, eating at Dizzy’s and Zito’s in Brooklyn, eating a donut from Doughnut Plant, touring the Tenement Museum, running in Prospect Park, riding the subway, ascending to the top of the Empire State Building, walking the Highline, eating at Bill’s Burger & Bar in Chelsea (and seeing Whoopi Goldberg!), viewing the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower, eating delicious pastrami at Katz’s Deli, running the 5-mile Pride Run in Central Park, brunching at EJ’s Luncheonette, checking out the Guggenheim Museum, strolling through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, walking through Grand Central and Times Square, and finally, ending the trip with delicious margaritas in Brooklyn. Whew.

I think it was a successful tour of the city and I think Stephanie & Bill had a great time! I would recommend all of our sightseeing destinations to other visitors, but my top 3 picks are: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tenement Museum, and the Highline.

My one tip for visitors: try not to schedule more than two or three destinations per day. Despite the deceptively small size of Manhattan, it takes quite a while to travel around the city. Taxis are not always available and the subway can usually only get you within a few blocks of your destination. Walking the city is tons of fun — you’ll stumble onto great stuff! — but there are constant crowds, smells, and noises which can get exhausting, especially if it is all new to you.

NYC is amazing, but it isn’t exactly what you see in tv and movies. It can be difficult… but worth it!

Check out all of my photos from our NYC adventure here.

Planning a trip to NYC? Let me know if you have any questions.

No Comments » Categories: Family, museums, New York

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I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.





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