Noe Valley Voice October 2000

Prentiss Sky Beam

By Maire Farrington


Six years ago when Mark and Lauren Beam began thinking of having kids, they embarked on a creative route toward their goal. Mark said goodbye to 11 years of trading on Wall Street, and Lauren took a break from her career as an event planner. The two sold their house in Weston, Conn., and set out to travel for a year, hoping to find a family-friendly locale in which to roost.

During their cross-country drive, they checked out Boulder, Colo., and Los Angeles before going on to Ecuador and Costa Rica. In August of 1995, while expecting their first child (Weston Arenal Beam, a former More Mouths feature), they made 24th Street in Noe Valley their final destination. The Beams liked their new home so much that they decided to stick around. In fact, the family has since expanded with the birth of their second son, Prentiss Sky Beam, who arrived on Nov. 25, 1998.

Local midwife Maria Iorillo assisted the Beams as their labor coach at California Pacific Medical Center. "It was a good thing she was there," Lauren says. "Right before I had him, I had pneumonia, so it was a tough one going in. Then the labor took about 24 hours."

Prentiss arrived at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve, weighing a healthy 8 pounds, 11 ounces.

Brother Weston, 4, and grandmother Pamela French were on hand the next day to greet the newest family member and celebrate the holiday. "We hadn't planned anything [for Thanksgiving]," says Lauren, who spent two nights in the hospital along with her husband. "Mark brought in little turkey dinners for all of us, so we ate in the hospital together."

At 21 months, Prentiss has blond hair and hazel eyes, and like his brother Weston, is the spit and image of his dad. He's named after Lauren's grandfather, Prentiss French, and "Sky was a name that we liked," says Mark. "The whole week before he was born it was very cloudy. Then the morning after we'd stayed up all night when Lauren went into labor, it was a perfect morning. The sky was clear, not a streak in it. That confirmed that we were going to name him Sky."

Like a sunny day, Prentiss "is a really happy guy," says Lauren. "Even around big kids, he seems to become the center of attention -- kind of the little entertainer of the group. He says hi and bye to everybody on the street, which is fun when you're living on 24th Street."

"He's a character," agrees Dad. "He's a comedian and a daredevil. He climbs anything." That includes objects with wheels, such as bikes, scooters, and motorcycles that happen to be parked in his vicinity.

"He takes a lot of risks, and at the playground he's always climbing in the areas that are for the older kids," Mom confirms. Babysitter Amparo Caceres takes Prentiss to Upper Noe Recreation Center, where he romps at Kids' Gym. And with Amparo speaking Spanish to him, Prentiss is building a bilingual vocabulary. With his impeccable accent, he might even pass for a native Spanish speaker.

Big brother Weston has taken to his new role like a fish to water. The two boys have designed a "sliding game" by removing the sofa cushions to form a slide, and they love building forts and the occasional friendly pillow fight.

"I think it's great, both for Weston and for Sky, that they have somebody they're around all the time," Mark says. "They're both very social. They don't like to just sit around. They like to be out talking or engaging with other people."

Raising two young ones of the male persuasion has been an eye-opening experience for Lauren, not having grown up with any brothers herself. "They're both high-energy boys, so they kind of play hard together and sometimes it ends in tears, but they're pals," she says. "And of course, Prentiss adores Weston. But Prentiss is pretty tough, and they're beginning to be pretty equal already."

"She still doesn't quite believe that boys will be boys," Mark deadpans, "that boys will be that boy-ish."

Prentiss likes to join brother and dad for what Weston refers to as Boys' Day Out. "Balls are usually in the picture," says Mark, who will take the guys to the park or join them out back to shoot hoops. And the kids have become pals with their downstairs neighbors at the Ark, a toy store full of the stuff that childhood dreams are made of. "Instead of Christmas cards, we do Valentine's cards, and usually they display the kids' Valentine's cards there for the year," Lauren says.

As for Weston, he is amused by the fact that "Sky can make the funniest faces." He also observes, "He sleeps a lot."

Lauren, 36, and Mark, 42, met in 1987 while working the trading desk of a bank in Los Angeles. The two were married in 1993, and the rest is history. "Our intent when we left Connecticut, since we were trying to have a baby, was to find ways that we could be home more," says Lauren, who is now concentrating on being a full-time mom.

In a turnaround from his Wall Street days, Mark founded an Internet company that "matches innovators, especially in the software industry, with funding and collaborators," he says. His office is just around the corner from home, so he's never far from the family action. "One of the main priorities we set was that I wanted to be near the kids while they were growing up," Mark explains. "So I definitely wanted to work for myself and have that kind of flexibility."

Lauren notes, "The only way that we have survived here without a parking place is that when I come home, I call Mark and he comes to help me bring up the groceries or carry the sleeping kids upstairs."

Meanwhile, Prentiss keeps himself busy with his books and "drumming with whatever he can find," says Mom. He also likes to express his creative side by dancing and attending the toddler art class at Precita Eyes Mural Center. And the budding comic in him likes to try out his antics on his big brother.

"He's funny and witty," says Lauren. "He has Weston laughing a lot. That's a great thing to watch. When they're giggling together, it's an incredible thing to have two kids."

Mark seconds that emotion. "It's cool to see these guys interact. I really like having two. It's awesome."

More Mouths to Feed

wants to show off your newest family member. If you have welcomed a new baby into the house, or adopted a teenager, please send your announcement to the Noe Valley Voice, More Mouths to Feed, 1021 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA 94114. Or email us at We'd also appreciate a phone number, so we can arrange for the family portrait. M