Reteaching my brain and listening to my body so I can help my patients do the same: A review of TMR TOTS

“Educating yourself does not mean you were stupid in the first place; it means you were intelligent enough to known there is plenty left  to learn.” -Melanie Joy



This weekend I spent about 18 hours on the floor in yoga clothes, on yoga mats, holding and twisting baby dolls with black electrical tape on them, and rolling, rubbing, and positioning other people (some I know, some I didn’t before Saturday). PT’s are weirdly awesome. We learn by doing. By seeing. Be feeling. By proving things to be correct…to be good enough to be worth our time, but more importantly to be worthy of making a difference for our patients.

I have be a long time internet stalker of the TMR Method – more specifically – TMR TOTS (the version for baby lovers like me!). It’s been a course that I have wanted to take for a long time, after hearing rave reviews from other therapists, and after hearing MANY refer to methods taught in this course with a sense of common vocabulary. As a PT I felt I was missing out on the secret and I wanted to see for myself.

A great slide with a great reminder!

A great slide with a great reminder!

Without getting into tremendous detail, these methods beautifully weave neurological principals long proven by science to be true, reinforcing what therapists have seen themselves to be successfully with a concept foreign and new to some (like me): making improvements in function, flexibility, posture, and showing increased range of motion without “stretching.” My brain couldn’t process this at first.

 No pain?

No “work?”

No “hold it 5, 10, 30 seconds?”

No “feel the burn?” 

I mean, they don’t call us PT’s (aka Physical Terrorists) for nothing? I was skeptical, then inquisitive, then curious (in between the 1st and 2nd days of the course, my first and favorite lab partner (my college roomie who came to take the course with me) and I assessed my children, husband, and mother in law – with a burning sense of expectation that it wouldn’t work with at least ONE of them.

Practicng at home. Sorry for the PJs - long day!

Practicng at home. Sorry for the PJs – long day!

They all improved. Every one. My mother in law could come to standing with ease and less pain. My husband and children all have increased hip motions where tight hamstrings have long limited them in various ways. So then I started questioning (long term carry over? children with neurologic tone?). And then I got to see before my own eyes and feel with my own hands one of my current patients be treated by Susan Blum – the gentle, patient, and wise PT – who teaches this career changing course. And I submitted. As I did I actually felt guilty that I didn’t have this knowledge for the past 14 years. This old dog learned a new trick and I can’t wait to practice what I learned this week and see what the results are on my patients!

If you are a therapist, I urge you to check it out. The differences we could all collectively make with this knowledge is pretty mind blowing. I’m eager to learn more and to see what we saw and felt replicated and proven in published studies.

If you are a parent with a child with challenges caused by movement – I urge you to seek out a therapist with the training. I wish every child I ever treated had the opportunity to give it a try.

A main component of TMR is to “go to the easy side,”  and “watch, listen, and feel what the body wants to do.” I sat and processed this a bit…and at a deeper level. When we feed our nervous systems with sensory input that our bodies need, we regulate, and function optionally. When we allow movement in the ways I learned about this weekend, our bodies start to correct themselves.  How many times in my life have I pushed my mind, body, and heart out of what it wanted to do? How about you?

Over worked?

Over scheduled?



Poor nutrition? and hydration?

Wrong choices for wrong motives?

Neglecting my people for reasons that don’t matter?

Judging myself by unfair standards?

My husband claims I have an “inner hippie,” and maybe he’s right (and maybe it’s laughable – go ahead) but I do think people and experiences come to you or are sent to you as you need them. Tomorrow my daughters return to school and as I’ve shared before, a new school year or more like New Year’s Day for me than the holiday. I love fresh starts and new chances for healthy starts….for chances to listen to what your body, mind, and soul are telling you.

As they go off to school, I will shift into working more and having more time during the day to pour into my “other kids.” Thanks to TMR, I have an incredible new skill set to practice and learn with. I also have a reminder to “go to my easy side” as I tackle the mom role of hectic schedules, a much quicker pace, and on the never ending quest for “balance” (in parenthesis because I don’t think it exists).

I am thankful that my body keeps telling me I have so much left to learn! What is yours telling you?

One of my favorite slides from the course.

One of my favorite slides from the course.


Why Every Toddler’s a Genius!


It’s like magic…all of a sudden something clicks inside their little minds and they are the smartest baby you know!  Almost overnight these adorable, chubby cheeked, gap-toothed angels are able to demonstrate they understand what you are saying by following a simple direction, answering a yes/no question or imitating your gestures.  They show you they understand associations and daily happenings by going to the bathroom when you say they need a bath or going to the back door when you say it’s time for daddy (or mommy) to get home from work.  And every (proud) parent begins to wonder if they are raising a toddler genius!

My third child is 15 months old and the other day I caught myself bragging to Nicole about how smart she is.  Lately she goes to the closet to get her shoes when she hears me say we are leaving and she answers yes/no questions pretty accurately.  But as I heard my proud parent boasting, I remembered I thought her brother and sister were “sooooo smart” at this age too!!!  So why was that?  I mean, I do believe my kids are smart, but no smarter than any one else’s children, especially at the tender age of 15 months.  And I can’t count how many times I have heard a parent bragging on the early emerging genius they call their toddler.  So why is it that we ALL think we are raising little Einsteins at this age???  What’s the explanation behind it?

The foundation or building block of communication is receptive language, or a child’s ability to understand spoken language.  Their whole (little) lives they have been absorbing every thing you say, every word on each page you read and observing your actions as you navigate their daily routines.  These multi-sensory experiences (seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and sometimes tasting) coupled with the repetition of your words and actions help them to understand what words mean.  Also when you speak to them and accompany your words with gestures (like pointing to what you want them to get or nodding your head yes and no), you increase their comprehension.  After many months of your tireless effort to keep their routines consistent and provide them with stimulation, all while keeping them happy and entertained, you are rewarded!  You finally realize the fruits of your labor!!!  They are now mobile enough to act upon what you have been teaching them for the past 12-18 months!  So relish in this stage, be PROUD of the tiny genius you have created!  And go ahead and brag…you deserve the accolades for raising baby Einstein!

If you would like to understand more about child development and get tips on how to help your child grow and develop during the toddler years check out 1-2-3 Just Play With Me.  It is jam packed with purposeful play ideas to engage your child and help you appreciate the magic of development during the first 3 years of your baby’s life.  Embrace the tiny miracle of your child!  Hug and kiss your baby(s) today 🙂

Dear Parents…

Dear Parents,

There is something I need you to know.

Your children really need to play.

Why, you ask, do I care?

I care because I work with infants and toddlers and have two elementary aged daughters. I see every day as an early childhood professional and as a parent what our society is doing to children and families. I’ve been there….where you may be. Sitting in a friend’s playroom with your two year olds. Looking at the 40 different toys that sing the alphabet and count in 4 languages. I’ve stared at the items labeled with site words around the room and the shelves of books and flashcards teaching letters and sounds. I have had the pang of panic. I’ve heard that little voice in my head, “If she can’t recite letters or shapes or…will..she.. EVER be ready for Kindergarten?”   “If she can’t sit through story hour…how will she EVER sit through circle time?” “If she can’t recognize her letter get into HARVARD?”

What you need to know.

PLAY builds brains. Simple as that. 40% of the neural connections in the brain at birth are “extra.” Babies prune out what they don’t need and strengthen what they use. Flip flashcards in front of their face and yes, they might be able to recite back that small amount of information on cue. Let them make shapes out of stones, turn Play doh into pictures, and count while throwing blocks into a bucket and they will LEARN and REMEMBER.  Why? Because REAL LEARNING occurs in context. Children learn through all senses…engage them and it becomes permanent for them.  Your child can’t sit still? GOOD. They shouldn’t be able to! Learn while MOVING through PLAY! Jump, climb, dance. This is what small children should do.

How this applies to you.

Your parent gut screams to you loud and clear what your child needs. So tell it to stare that message that society is sending you down, and tell it to ZIP IT. Your actions and decisions as a parent matter for your child. I don’t say this to stress you. I say it to EMPOWER you. Breathe. Your child needs you and time and space to PLAY. How can this look for your family? SCHEDULE unscheduled time. Don’t sign up for so many (or any) “classes” for infants and toddlers. Go to the park or join a play group instead. Looking for daycares or preschools? Search for ones that have less “curriculum” and more play. Don’t ask the teacher “what did she learn today?” Ask, “What did they play today?” Because the answer to the second question will tell you WHAT SHE LEARNED. Don’t feel like she didn’t get the whole experience you paid for if there is NO WORK SHEET at the end of the day. I have an 8 year old. Trust my journey if I have come before you…you will get enough worksheets in your child’s lifetime to wallpaper 4 houses. If you are handed an art project that looks different than the other children’s EMBRACE IT. It means your child is learning to express themself individually. If it appears your child spent all day JUST PLAYING… EMBRACE IT. It means he had time to build his own interests, socialize with friends, learn to resolve conflicts, and release stress. It means he was able to keep his body healthy and sensory system regulated.

The good news? 

Do Less. Enjoy more. Be in the moment. Just say no to the craziness of it all. You will be happier. Your child will be happier – and healthier & smarter too. 


So enjoy your kid. Go PLAY!



For more information on what REAL development looks like (no reading at 18 months is NOT TYPICAL) and ways to support development through PLAY – click here)

Paying It Forward

Here at Milestones & Miracles we love to pay it forward.  In fact, when we started our business back in 2010, helping others was our main motivation.  We wanted to help parents, children and families by educating them about child development and the importance of play.  This past week we were able to start giving back to our community in an effort to fulfill this mission.  Wednesday evening Nicole and I presented at the Entrpreneurs’ Café in Shepherdstown, WV.  We competed against 4 other awesome small businesses from the area to win a cash award.  We were honored to win and shared with those in attendance what we intended to do with our winnings.  Read more about it here.


Friday morning we met with Mr. Mitch Greenbaum of the WIC Nutrition office in Martinsburg, WV.  We donated 5 boxes of 1-2-3 Just Play With Me to his staff.  Our hope is that 1-2-3 Just Play With Me will help the staff better answer questions, better assess children’s needs and refer children to other agencies should they have concerns.  We hope the information from 1-2-3 Just Play With Me that is shared with families helps them to interact and enjoy their children more.  We also hope that should a family have any concerns about their child’s development, 1-2-3 Just Play With Me can be a tool in helping them to decide if they need to seek further help.




I have no doubt we will be pursuing more opportunities to pay it forward in the future.  With the holiday approaching we are thankful for many things this week; our families, our business, and the opportunity to make a positive impact in the world around us.  Blessings to you and yours this week and always!


Lacy and Nicole

Shake, Rattle, & PLAY! Choosing that first special toy – tips from the EI therapists!

You’ve waited for what seems like forever for that sweet bundle of joy and now that baby is here, you want to hug, adore, love, and….shop! Parents, grandparents, & friends love to buy that first toy. It’s often seen as a special a right of passage and such an important decision, but how long do we spend considering that first toy?

A baby’s first toy is one of their very first ways to learn through play. By touching it, moving it, and placing it in his/her mouth, that tiny infant is learning about spacial concepts, exploring and wakening the sensory system, and getting that sweet mouth stronger to produce lovely first sounds. Important roles indeed for a simple rattle, right? That’s why when choosing a first toy, like any toy that comes after it, we suggest first examining the child’s developmental stage and finding a toy that matches those abilities.

For example, a newborn infant has tiny hands that have the ability to grasp with a whole palm, so smaller diameter rattles will be easier to maintain a toy in the hand. Did you know that a newborn only  sees 8-15 inches in front of them at first and initially only recognizes black, white, orange and red? Typically, babies don’t see pastels well until close to 5 months of age. This fact makes seeking out toys with bold, contrasting colors a smart choice. Ever notice babies seem to put EVERYTHING in their mouths? As therapists, we actually encourage this because it strengthens those muscles in the mouth and brings self oral awareness that later helps babies to make noises and speak and eat safely. Choosing first toys that are safe to place in the mouth from a size standpoint as well as ensuring the toy is made with safe materials.

Over the years, we have found a few favorites that we are excited to share with you here.

Sophie the world’s most famous giraffe (found at: is loved by all babies. But do you know she’s been a fan favorite since 1961 when she got her start in France? Still made today by a top secret process utilizing specialized rubber made by Hevea Tree sap, Sophie is a classic.
Simple links like those shown here (found at: are wonderful first objects to hold (a single red one is my personal favorite).  These are fun to link to make longer chains and hook to a car seat as baby grows.
Wooden toys are some of my favorite and infants seem to love them too.  This one (found at: is a nice option for a rattle and a great teether.
Manhattan Toys does a wonderful job at creating developmentally appropriate first toys. Here’s two of our favorites. We love them for the easy of grasp and unique designs.
Found at:
Found at:
Some of the greatest toys come out of Germany.  Wish I had known about this awesome option when my girls were tiny.
Found at:
While these are great commercial options, don’t hesitate to make your own rattle or toy.  Small water bottles, plastic Easter eggs, or small baby food containers with beans or popcorn inside (be sure to glue lids and openings shut tightly for safely) make simple options.  Before you know it, that baby will be shaking and learning, and you’ll be able to continue to hug, adore, love, and…play!
Are you intrigued by the idea of being mindful of your child’s development when choosing toys and play activities? Head over to our HOME PAGE to learn more about 1-2-3 Just Play With Me.  We’ve uniquely paired 3 years worth of milestones with play in each domain of child development. PLUS, this generous information is presented in accessible card format, because we know, as parents you want to save your valuable time for PLAYING!