DLK | design + life + kids

next steps...

Kim Wardell7 Comments
dlk shop

I've been thinking a lot about where does DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS go from here. With the recent passing of my husband each day feels more and more important and I want to really enjoy this time we have. That said, I've decided to make a transition from full-time blogger to retailer. It has always been a dream of mine to have a little shop to call my own. I love kids fashion, design and decor and wanted to find a new way to share that with you. So in the next few months I will be working hard to restart and open up an online store simply called DLK. It will include all the things we love and live in from kids clothing to really great housewares and decor. 

Because of all of you, I am so grateful to be a part of this community. You lifted me up when I was down and continue to do in so many wonderful ways. Thank you all, so so much.

I'm super excited about this next venture and hope you will come along for the ride! If you are a kids clothing / toy / decor designer, let's chat about featuring your line on the new DLK by emailing me at designlifekids (AT) gmail (DOT) com

saying good bye

LIFEKim Wardell19 Comments
Print by Pax and Hart

Print by Pax and Hart

Two weeks ago today, I said good-bye to my Scotty. He was the father of our two little babes, my best friend, my love, my reality check, my provider, my favorite person in the whole world, my husband. I don't know why he left us or how something like this could have ever happened and never will. But that's the reality of death, right? It's shitty and sad and I hate it. He was 37 years old and the healthiest I've ever seen him.

Over the last year+ he decided to change his life and make it a happier one. He went back to skateboarding (and aced it), lost 30lbs and rejuvenated his passion for art with his skate sketches. He was happy - we all were and it was awesome. We were having the best year ever as a family and the day before it all happened, we had the BEST day ever. Since all of this, I've been touched by the messages, love and good vibes sent from close ones and strangers. So in an effort to release some of the crazy that I'm feeling... I'm sharing my story about how I lost my husband and became a widow at 32.

*This story is not for everyone. It is not pretty. It will not make you smile. Please don't feel obligated to read. 

On Wednesday, June 24, 2014, Scott took the day off and together we surprised Maya and Senna with a day at an amusement park (Hershey Park). Now, I'm terrified of roller coasters, but the girls and Scott... they love them. So Scott took them on every possible ride they could for their height and then ventured onto a few alone. It was hot, fun and memorable. Before and after every ride the three of them lit up with pure joy. The smiles on their faces and the recaps they shared were beautiful to hear. After 7 hours, we came home, gave the girls a bath and said good-night to them. Then as usual, I started some blog work and Scott went outside to skate for an hour or two. It was our evening routine. I remember him coming back inside all sweaty and excited because he aced some trick he'd been working on. He was like a kid experiencing something new and he was like that all the time with skateboarding. His smile... so good. He showered and we went to bed.

Early the next morning on the 25th, sometime after 4am I woke up to hear Scott gasping, choking and shaking. Initially it sounded like he was snoring really loud, but then I noticed it was different. This exact situation had happened a few weeks prior and we had no idea why. He woke up, was shaken, then with intentions on seeing the doctor slipped by and it was forgotten. But this time was different. I tried to wake him and lift him up, but I couldn't. I panicked as I watched him stop moving. Struggle to take a breath and then stop. I was terrified, yelling and called 911. What was I supposed to do? How could help him? I felt so helpless. As instructed I attempted to give him CPR and mouth to mouth, but nothing. I couldn't do it. Why couldn't I get it to work for him? 

The paramedics arrived and after some time was able to get a pulse back. I kept thinking... what's going on? Is he gone? What am I supposed to do? What the hell happened? As the ambulance left with my dear husband, I had to talk to the girls who had both woken up and were huddled in a room together. What do you say to a 5 and 6 year old? Maya asked if he was dead... my heart stopped. Senna asked if he fainted, so I simply said yes. I explained that a neighbor was coming over to spend the day with them and that I would be going to see daddy to make sure everything was ok. I called my in-laws and headed over to the ER.

I don't even remember what I was thinking on the way over. I was confused, didn't know what I was doing. I remember sitting in a private ER waiting room.... A doctor came in to explain that Scott went into cardiac arrest, but we don't know why. They were taking him to surgery to get a cardiac cartherization to see what was happening inside. So we waited in another room for hours. Me and my in-laws, all a mess. Once it was done, there were still no answers. Everything checked out ok. His heart... lungs... ok. 

We went to our third waiting room, this time in the ICU. We were then explained that they were going to put Scott in an induced coma and a hypothermic process that would chill his body temperature in an attempt to slow his brain and body function down and would last for 24 hours. After that, they would attempt to raise his body temperature back to normal and over several days reduce his sedating meds. So I slept at the hospital, watching him shiver from the cold, hooked up to a million machines, holding his hand and ripped shirt in my arms, crying. I didn't understand why were there. He's thirty seven. 3.7. 

I have to admit that I was scared and always assuming the worst. I saw him die. How could he come back? I want him back, but how would any of this be possible? Everyone around me was positive, sending well wishes, saying he would come back to us- that we just have to wait for the next step. The next step came, they raised his body temperature and he began having seizures. Big, small, consistent, inconsistent. He was seizing through the meds they gave him. After three days there, the doctor made the decision to fly him into the city to the Neuro ICU where they could treat him best, now. And in less than an hour, I watched a team prep him for flight and the room was empty. The last three days gone.

My heart dropped. I couldn't take it. Would he be okay? I didn't want him to be alone. I didn't want to be alone. Before heading to the next hospital, I stopped home to pick up clothes, take a shower and cry again. I remember feeling frozen in my car and dropping to the ground when I got out. I was so scared to walk into the house alone. I just couldn't understand any of this. I wouldn't be here at this house, with this life, family ... without him. Nothing I had, nothing I had become was possible without him. 

I don't know how, but I drove into the city and found my Scotty in a new room, with new doctors, new nurses and new hope. The doctors saw that he was in a constant state of seizing and before anything could happen, the had to stop them. Then once they did, he'd have to be settled for 48 hours. So we waited some more. Friends and family came by, which was good at times and difficult at others. I half slept trying to listen to everything that was going on. The doctors began to reduce his sedation meds, super slowly and only every 12 hours. I slept there making one trip back to see the girls for a night - it felt awful and scary, but their hugs were full. I was trying to contain my emotions so they wouldn't be frightened while trying to figure out who would care for them so I could get back to him... I hated being away. I was lost and just wanted to be in his presence. 

Back at the hospital, one of his 5 seizure meds was reduced from 100 to 40... that was good. That was hopeful. Then the next step was an EEG test. They placed sensors on his arms, stimulating his muscles to see if messages were being received by his brain, but the results wouldn't be returned until the next day. I was ok with that. It gave me time with him. To hold his hand, talk to him, cry next to him. This was a test that would tell us what to do. Tell us if he was there, if he had a future. He had to.  He had to. I had to know. The next night was hard. Scott started seizing again and it only got worse, taking us back 4 steps. He was back on all his meds and they added another. And another. More people came and so did the news. His EEG test was inconclusive. One side came up negative and the other wasn't complete. They had to redo it in the morning. 

I remember breaking down. One side negative. That's terrible. He wasn't receiving the messages and he can't function that way. Even though the test was being taken again the next day, I knew I had to think about the reality of it all. Every doctor and nurse told me to think about what he would want and then I would have my decision. But I hated that. It felt so finite. They said it would be a miracle if he would come out of it and then if he would be able to function. How is anyone supposed to handle this stuff? I didn't want to make any decisions. So I waited for the next test results.

At this point I was frustrated with all the positivity of visitors. Sounds stupid, probably, but I was. I was there at night and during the day. I watched him lay there, peacefully. But I know he'd be so mad. So angry that this happened, he would feel ripped off by life. And so did I. I don't want to be alone and certainly not without him. What about our girls? Hated it. 

The next day they retook the test and the results for both sides were negative. Meaning, if he woke up, he wouldn't know it. He wouldn't be aware. He wouldn't be Scott. And I knew the decision was made for me. He would never want to live that way. None the less, I struggled with the decision. It was stupid. No one is supposed to do this kind of stuff and certainly not at 32 years old with two kids. I remember holding off that day to tell anyone. His parents were spending the night with Maya and Senna and I didn't want to ruin it for them. So I waited until the next day and asked them to come visit. 

Together in hysterics, we agreed. We had to. It wasn't our choice, we had to let him go. 

Once the decision was made, things moved fast and slow. We were able to get genetic testing approved. That would tell us if there is any gene mutation that could affect both the girls and his brother, but those results take months. Reps from the organ donation center came by to discuss options, but if we said yes we would have to wait 8-12 hours longer so they could find appropriate recipients. Now, while this is an incredible thing to do and Scott was an organ donor... it freaked me out. It meant someone else would have Scott with them, in them, but I wouldn't. And it meant that all of this was real. 

For many hours while we waited. We laughed, we cried and assured each other with love. Then at 1:00am on the 4th of July, we suited up and walked down to the operating room. It felt like a movie and suddenly I was emotionless. I had no tears left. Will I ever feel like this was the right decision? Can I change my mind? Why was this happening?

Shortly after we entered the operating room, the turned off the respirator and removed his breathing tube. I watched his pulse go up and down... hoping that somehow through some movie magic, he would wake up. But he didn't. And for the second time, I watched my husband take his last breath. And he was gone.

Was eight days of trying enough? I'll never know and I'll never be okay with the decision, but I will love him and forever be grateful for the girls he gave me.

I love you, Scotty. Always your Kimball.

taking a break...

Kim Wardell8 Comments

I will be putting DLK on pause for a while. I love being a part of this amazing community and sharing a view into our little world and ideas, but unfortunately right now I need to focus on family and the health of my husband. He has so very suddenly gotten ill and we don't know what the outcome will be. So while I love DLK, my heart and soul belongs to him first. Hope to be back soon though. 


xoxo- kim

RECAP. a radiant orchid summer party

EVENT, DIY DESIGN, FOODKim Wardell1 Comment
It's taken me a bit to catch up after our first DLK event, but I've got our Radiant Orchid Summer recap up! For those of you who couldn't make it, stay tuned... I have a something for you.

So the day was gorgeous! We had been worried because it literally rained every day up to the party and we could only have it outdoors. No wonder so many bloggers live out west... California sounds pretty awesome right now.

The idea for A Radiant Orchid Summer was to celebrate Pantone's Color of the Year and the fun summer season. I partnered with Rit Dye to set up a creative dye station for guests to make the perfect picnic blanket that they can use for all their summer outings! Check out these great designs that everyone came up with... the best was that so many guests were worried about the outcome because it was their first time dyeing. But they came out amazing!

Around the corner from the blanket project was a DIY floral bracelet station where I pre dyed cotton ribbon and guests cut and glued fresh flowers from The Bouqs to create a new take on the old corsage. Aren't they beautiful? I love the ranunculus ones!

In between projects, we brought out a fresh Watermelon Lemonade and handed everyone a Zoku Slush and Shake Maker to see how a summertime classic could be mixed up into a new refreshing treat in less than 10 minutes and with a splash of vodka! For the beer lovers, our friends from the Brandywine Valley Brewing Collective shared a custom Blueberry Wheat brew with us that totally embodied the party theme. Thanks guys!

Set up throughout the garden were giveaways like art prints from Minted, flowers from The Bouqs and a hammock from La Siesta. It was super neat to see everyone enjoying the different stations that we set up and admiring the gorgeous cookies from Whipped Bakeshop ... I mean how great are those?

All in all, it was a blast and I feel so grateful to have old and new friends to enjoy the day with. Also a big thanks to our event partners like Bing who helped make A Radiant Orchid Summer a great success!

Couldn't make the party? Well, check back in soon for a special giveaway for all DLK email subscribers!

new from rifle paper

style favorite: Rifle Paper Co on DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS

Have you seen the new additions from Rifle Paper Co.? So many great designs.... I might have to hoard a few of those tattoos for the girls. Here are my favorites.

1 | i've never been, but boy do i want to go ........ hawaii greeting card
2 | to wallpaper or not to wallpaper? ........ city toile wallpaper
3 | or maybe this one ........ pineapple wall paper
4 | because we all are on good days ........ certificate of awesome cards
5 | c'mon now, these are gorgeous ........ floral tattoos
6 | why shouldn't my shopping list be cute? ........ woodblock market list
7 | for the honeymooners ........ passport pocket notebooks

FASHION. warby parker picks

Warby Parker Picks on DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS
Did you know that I wear glasses?

My prescription is super strong, the kind that makes me look like a blind old lady. Fun, right? Totally... so you won't be seeing me on here with glasses on ever, but you can check out my friend Amber's new frames! I've been hearing so many great things about Warby Parker and their Try-On program that I had to order a box and see what it was all about.

It's super simple! Visit their website and browse the collection of frames. Now these aren't the ones you usually see at the old school store you go to with your Mom, these are cool. They're always adding new frames and keeping up with on trend. Anyway... So you pick out 5 frames free of charge to try on in the comfort of your own home. You have five days to see which ones are your favorite and then you can ship them back using the include return label. All for free. Once you know which frames you like, simply place an order online!

What do you think of Amber's picks? I think she's looks smart and hip!

*This post is in partnership with Warby Parker and contains affiliate links.

HELP WANTED. an adoption story continues...

INSPIRATION, LIFE, TRAVELBre and Sharim7 Comments
An Adoption Story Continues - on DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS

Do you remember the adoption story I shared a few weeks back about my friend and DLK contributor, Bre of PanacheBox HERE? After her visit to meet her kids for the first time, she began to see that while she could not take them home just yet, her sweet children and their friends could use some help even from afar. Here is an update on her story... asking for your help to keep them safe until she can bring them home...

We're adopting two children and one of the silliest questions that I get asked is variants of "how can you love someone else's children?"  

… I mean.

When people ask me that question, I feel crazed.  I gather myself before explaining that loving someone is obviously entirely unconditional of their blood relationship to you.  In fact, if we only loved people related to us biologically we likely would have extinguished as a species a long time ago.  I'm no scientist, but my husband is, so I'll ask him about that theory later... ;)

Regardless, I get what they are asking.  Having experienced the intense emotional bond I feel for my two biological kids, I certainly understand the doubt one might have that this could be felt for "another" child.  

Three weeks ago, my husband and I returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo after meeting the two children we are in the process of adopting.  A little girl, age 7, and a little boy who's nearly 6.  We traveled over 6,000 miles to see and touch these two precious souls that have been brought into our lives.  We gave them lollipops and hugged them- we heard their voices and kissed their cheeks.

The Congo River one evening in Kinshasa

The Congo River one evening in Kinshasa

What I can say with certainty, is that we love them deeply, emotionally and the same way we do our two biological kids.  We worry about them, we go to sleep hoping they are safe and warm and fed, and ok.  We hope that they have friends, a confidant, that they can talk to.  We hope that when they fall down, someone picks them up.  And we wish for them the same opportunity of a great big future as our two bio kids.

The difference is- we can't do anything about any of that right now.

For now, due to government restrictions and the normal, long-winded adoption timeline, they must remain at their orphanage while we are home.  

When we were in DRC, we noticed that the toys we had brought for all of the kids were whisked away to a special, locked room and only taken out occasionally under supervision.  What we came to realize was that the balls and xylophones and clothes that we had brought were pretty tempting to the other kids in the village and if they were left out they would be stolen.  The solution to their theft issue comes down to a simple solution, they need a new wall to replace the current deteriorating one.

Yes, a wall.  Besides protecting the kids from petty theft that robs them of the opportunity to play with toys and games, this wall would also keep the youngest children inside the compound, keep the villagers from entering the orphanage and distracting the kids during mealtimes and school, and keep the village garbage from being dumped inside the compound.

The hills outside our children's orphanage, taken the day we met them.

The hills outside our children's orphanage, taken the day we met them.

Now imagine it was your house missing a wall and they were your kids. These are the world's children, just as your own children are.  

As a Baha'i, I was raised to consider and love all humanity as one global family.  In fact, this is one of the reasons we decided five years ago to adopt Internationally, to make the concept of our global family that much more literal for our children and ourselves.

And so, with hearts full of love for the 40+ amazing kids in this orphanage outside of Kinshasa and with the true understanding of what it means to love and care for all of humanity as our global family- we have decided to raise the necessary funds to re-build this wall, which will ensure the security and improve the quality of life for the kids living here today- and many years into the future.

Charity and I have a complicated relationship.  The selfless act of giving is something that can bring great joy to the giver and the recipient… but this giving should never be at the expense of another.  When you bring pity into the recipe, the whole batch is spoiled.  

I humbly ask that you see no superheroes here, and no desperate wide-eyed orphans… just people loving people… that you consider giving to this project as a way of improving the conditions of humanity as a whole.  Every little bit counts, and we can start construction as soon as we have the money to purchase the gravel, sand, metal bars, and other raw ingredients necessary to build this wall.

Two of my favorite quotes are above and both speak so eloquently to the concept of giving and love expressed through this project.  Though we aren't allowed to share the kids' photos and videos here, we will share a photo of the completed wall with anyone who donates once it's built.  

Would you consider helping?
Please share THIS LINK with your friends. Thank you so much for your help and consideration- we are very grateful for your generosity.

GIFT IDEA. popsugar must have box

GIFT IDEASKim Wardell9 Comments
Popsugar Must Have Box on DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS
Are you familiar with POPSUGAR'S Must Have Box subscription? Popsugar is known for being on point with trends and always sharing the latest and greatest. So they have carefully curated seasonal picks from beauty, fashion and home and packaged them up in a monthly subscription service called, Must Have. They are constantly testing new products and then hand picking the best to share with us. Their service is $39.95/month and the goodies packaged inside are always full sized and fit within a specific theme for the month. So no, mini sample sizes or random picks, but instead they're high quality products and feels like receiving a killer holiday gift from your BFF!

I received a sneak peak into June's Must Have Box and I have to say, every piece is awesome! The quality is great, the product designs are beautiful and this month's beachy themed box is perfect for our next outing. Check out what's inside and how you can get save $10 on a 3-month subscription using promo code: JUNESELECT10. Expires 6/30/14


The One & Only by Emily Giffin
Can't go to the beach without a romance novel, c'mon now.

Shiny Citrus Body Lotion from Sachajuan
First off, I love this bottle's design and this hydrating lotion is perfect after a long day on the beach.

Beach Towel from Turkish-T
Probably my favorite piece in the box! It's lightweight and can even be used a chic beach wrap.

Lemon Wet Wipes from You Smell
These durable, fresh scented wipes come in handy for life's little surprises or for a quite pick-me-up!

Hair Ties by Lollies
These stylish hair ties are made from swimwear fabric and look cute as a bracelet or for tying up your beach braids. Plus, they won't stretch out like the others you're used to.

Hawaiian BBQ Chips from One Potato Two Potato
Ugh. I devoured these as soon as I was done taking pictures. I'm definitely picking up another bag.. or two.

$15 gift card to Native Union
Love this surprise addition to the box and being introduce to a new shop. I'll be picking up a new phone case from them before we head to the beach!

Shop POPSUGAR Must Have HERE promo code: JUNESELECT10. Expires 6/30/14

*POPSUGAR provided me with a complimentary POPSUGAR Must Have box. The opinions I have shared about the box are my own and POPSUGAR did not tell me what to say or how to say it.