To solve my problem I decided on jumbo squares for the checkerboard. These are 8 x 1/2 square. Now the question is should I do the entire back in the checkerboard pattern or should I break it up somehow? Such difficult questions so early in the morning.
I have started using my iPod while sewing. I keep it low enough that I can still hear what is going on around the house but the kids bother me less. I guess they think I can't hear them, that will be just our little secret.