The dining room (and the rest of the house, as a matter of fact) are actually clean and somwhat organized for the first time in what feels like forever. We were able to have a sit-down dinner in the dining room, and the table was clean and free of dust. The floor was likewise clean, and I've been running around in just my socks. Even the office and front vedroom are showing signs of improvement; I went through several boxes of junk and consolidated and "weeded".
I also had some good news on house work. After applying a layer of Citri-strip last night to some of our woodwork, I began scraping this morning. The living room woodwork has been painted multiple times, including at least 2 layers of lead paint. My happy surprise is that the upstairs woodwork had only been painted twice, and both times with latex or enamel paint! It came off so quickly and easily, I didn't know what to do with the rest of my morning! The wood underneath is very nice and will only require minimal sanding. In the photo below, you can see the living room woodwork with its lead paint (pieces with smears of green) compared to the upstairs woodwork (nice, beautiful, clean pieces).
Inspired by my tiny victory, I decided to start stripping the banister and other staircase woodwork. I'm sure this paint won't come off quite so easily, just because of the awkwardness of the project, but knowing there's only 2 layers sure made me happy.
I also realized that I never posted pictures of the finished ceiling. I only took one shot, but it shows the "new" textured living room ceiling. The texture isn't as heavy as I thought it would have to be, and it looks very nice. It'll look even better once we get a coat of paint on it :)