What Sparked SPARK Parenting?
We’ve been married for 21 years and live in Florida with our two sons, Trevor (13) and Parker (10), and our two cats, Chloe and Shadow. We’ve got lots of business experience between us (see below), but we are not psychologists, clinical researchers, mental health counselors or family therapists. Instead, we’re schooled in the day-to-day reality of raising kids in a world that seems programmed to pull families apart. And we are determined to win.
Lisa Beach: I’ve been freelance writing since my days at King’s College (PA), where I earned a BA in Communications in 1986 and also where I met Kevin. We fell in love and moved to New Jersey, where I then attended graduate school and earned an MA in Public Relations from Rowan University.
Kevin and I got married soon after and lived in NJ for 10 years, enjoying a kid-free life filled with full-time careers, hobbies, exercise, travel, family get-togethers, volunteer work and an active social life with a great group of friends we met through a recreational volleyball league. Kevin and I both volunteered extensively with our local Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization, serving as a Big Brother/Sister, committee chair and board member.
While I continued to take on freelance writing projects part-time, I also worked full-time in public relations, first at a non-profit trade association and then at a theme park. I really enjoyed the trade association job, which allowed me to work in a variety of areas such as public relations, media relations, community service, member communication, and volunteer management. I won quite a few newsletter and community service awards during this time from our state and national association. Next, as part of the theme park’s marketing team, I again handled a variety of PR tasks, from media relations to employee communication to community service. I won a corporate employee award here, but, quite frankly, this job wasn’t nearly as much fun as I thought it would be. (I do, however, fondly recall the theme park wedding I coordinated for two park guests, complete with Bugs Bunny walking the bride down the midway.) So, disillusioned, I ditched the corporate world to work full-time as a freelance writer, and I haven’t looked back since.
About a year after I began freelance writing full-time, Kevin and I finally decided we were ready to start a family (much to the relief of both our parents). It was actually a dizzying few years – we launched a non-profit newsletter in 1995, Trevor was born in 1997, we moved to Florida in 1998 and then Parker was born in 2000. A lot of changes to take in, but each decision brought us in alignment with what we wanted out of life – kids, self-employment and a warm climate.
Working for myself gave me the freedom, flexibility and creativity I yearned. This became even more important once kids entered the scene, when I often worked late into the night so I could spend the day taking care of my kids. In addition to publishing the newsletter for non-profits, I also produced a variety of projects (i.e., website content, newsletters, brochures, sales collateral, direct mail pieces, etc.) for Fortune 100 companies, small businesses and non-profit organizations. Over the years, I’ve focused much of my writing on marketing communications, and I’ve really enjoyed it. But ever since I became a mom, my passion has turned to parenting and education, which explains how SPARK Parenting evolved.
Kevin Beach: My background is completely different than Lisa's, although sometimes I feel as if we are one (having been married so long). We know what each other is thinking and can complete each other's sentences. Yet when compared side by side, Lisa and I couldn't be more different. She is quiet; I am loud. She plans; I wing it. She values her alone time (i.e., taking a quiet, relaxing bath) to recharge. I break out the drumsticks, crank up the music and believe I’m Neil Pert from RUSH in the farewell tour. If you ask Lisa, she’ll probably tell you it’s like having three kids. Lisa probably has said, "Really? What were you thinking?" to me more than she has to our kids. But in the end, it’s all good. We both are on the same page for life goals and raising our kids, and from the looks of things, we’re doing all right.
Professionally, I’ve been all over the board, which is a reflection of my personality. My career started with a bang right out of college, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I’ve had several businesses over the years, primarily focused on providing IT and business consulting to clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small start ups that consist of one person and an idea. Being a student of learning — coupled with a healthy ego, a good business sense and a highly creative mind —the ADHD world of business suits me fine. Currently, I’m working with a global entertainment company providing leadership in their distribution supply chain. (Not very creative, but stable.) My outlets for business creativity lie in notebook after notebook of business ideas and solutions. (Lisa likens me to John Nash in the movie The Beautiful Mind, with Post-It notes all over the place. However most of my thoughts are realistic — at least to me.) Realizing I cannot do everything myself, I’m making some strategic alliances and partnerships with other individuals and companies to bring some of these ideas to life from the pages of those notebooks. While I’m always currently working on several ideas at once, you can see some of the other work that I’m doing in one of these partnerships at CoreValueSports.com. Just like this site, SPARKparenting.com in partnership with Lisa, CoreValueSports.com is to youth sports what SPARKParenting.com is to parenting. I am sure you will see many carry-over articles and resources here that you will find helpful in your challenges with youth sports and your child.
When I am not doing the above, I am coaching youth sports, instructing/training in martial arts, raising money for some charitable organization or believing I can still hang with the 20-year-olds on the sports fields. Succeeding in three of these four areas gives me a sense of accomplishment, while, for the fourth area (playing sports) I need to come to the realization that - "I AM GETTING OLD!" Ironman Brett Favre, I am not :(