I am in full-fledged quilting mode, spending at least four hours a day at the task. I have beautified my sewing table and laid in a cache of unheard audiobooks. I have more fabric than I know what to do with thanks to too many trips to the fabric store.
I have had many questions as to how I manage to quilt while taking care of the kids. The answer is complicated, but I'll give you a picture to describe it, a picture of words, that is.
My hair is pushed off of my face with a headband, letting me forget for a bit longer that it's been two (or is it three?) days since last I washed it. My shirt, crusty in places from snot and breakfast, tops off a careless outfit that may or may not include jeans, which I consider to be "dressier" than my pajama pants. The children are clothed and fed and washed; I have standards, don't you know.
In the adjacent bedroom, a Little Tykes slide plays host to numerous activities... the conveyor belt of flashcards, a launching pad for trucks, a laundry chute for disheveled children. Duplo blocks are scattered across the hardwood floor. Don't they make such a great sound when dumped from their bin?
After teaching Anna how to safely go down the stairs, she now as free reign of the house. She frequently makes the trek downstairs to grab a sippy cup or a cozy blanket or a shoe. Every once in a while, I move to the floor to sit and reach for her. We cuddle and giggle together, and I will nurse her until boredom moves her elsewhere or sleep overtakes her. Her favorite spot is on my lap, and when I'm just sewing and not brandishing the rotary cutter, I'll often hold her precariously on my lap, my arms reaching around her to hold the fabric steady under the jumping needle. Her joy is letting one of the widgy-gadgets bop up against her outstretched hands as the machine jiggers along.
Ben will sometimes be content to play upstairs or watch TV. Often, however, he goes downstairs where I have mommy radar going, listening for naughty sounds, or, worse, naughty silence. Mostly, he pulls out toys and plays by himself, entertaining himself without my assistance for up to two hours at a time. Sometimes I come downstairs to minor disasters, like washable marker on the floor or a roll of toilet paper in the toilet.
Before snacktime, lunch and naps, clean-up time occurs in at least one zone of the house, and that's when the fun begins. The quilting table is tidied up, and I give the kids my full attention. I try to make clean-up fun. My strokes of genius include putting the end of the slide on a bucket and using the slide to put toys away. It's much more fun to collect them in buckets if you get to push them down a slide. Or maybe I'll put a broom handle on the floor two or three feet away from a bin, and I'll play referee while Ben practices his free throw skills. That one takes longer, but it's more "play" than "chore," so it's definitely worth it.
Slowly but surely, the quilt gets completed without bloodshed, without too many tears, without resentment and regret. I'm in the homestretch with my dear niece Alisha's quilt right now, and I feel overcome with blessings of a magnitude not yet experienced.