On Monday night, Shayne and I had a little sanding party. The treads of the bottom 10 steps (we have 16 total) are sanded. He bought a pad sander last night to get the vertical parts, since the 5" disc is too big to fit, and the little mouse sander takes FOREVER. I don't have any pics, since as soon as we finished sanding, we covered the stairs with a dropcloth to protect them. I'm disproportionately pleased with myself for making some kind of progress... :) We'll be going on vacation soon, but I think the bottom portion of the stairway will be completely finished within a month.
When we sanded this time, I rigged up a plastic dropcloth to keep the dust out of the nearly-finished living room area. I'd been eyeing a ZipWall, but I think they're overpriced at $110 for 2 poles. While perusing Amazon, I found these 3rd Hand poles. The 3rd Hand poles aren't as light, and they sound like they're a little fussier to use, but at $70 for a 2 pack, I don't really mind. Plus, they can be used to hold up shelves, molding, or cabinets. Each pole can support up to 150 lbs! I used them to pin my plastic sheeting to the ceiling without any trouble. It did a great job of containing the dust, and I wish I'd have invested in them a lot sooner. Like when we were sanding the drywall compound skimcoat... All I need now is one of those nifty zippers that you attach to a slit in the plastic so that I don't have to take my barrier down to get through it.