Eurovision Song Contest 2009

May 16, 2009 at 11:39 pm (Music, Film and Television) (, )

Dale and I make a point of watching Eurovision every year and I always keep a blog about it, but this year I didn’t bother blogging the semi-finals (as most of the comments get repeated in the final blog entry). So here are my thoughts on the entries as they happened.

This is also the first time in, like, thirty years that Terry Wogan won’t be doing the commentary for the UK though. He left in a huff after last year’s farce – Russia should NOT have won it! This year we had Graham Norton, so was interesting to see how he did with it. It’s a shame Tel left – his doing the Eurovision commentary was pretty much the highlight of the evening and became a national institution.

Pre-competition entertainment:
Opening with Cirque de Soleil – fantastic
Last year’s winner running through walls inconveniently placed on a travellator – bizarre
Loving the big screens set-up on stage – very high-tech!

Lithuania – Very good performance with an unusual song. Good start to the comp.
Israel – Semi-decent performance, but nothing special. Only worth noting because sung by an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew
France – Very Edith Piaf
Sweden – Hideous opera nonsense
Croatia – Sang about feminine hygiene products (Beautiful Tena Laughing )
Portugal – Not impressed
Iceland – Very strong performance
Greece – My hot tip to win the whole shebang (I actually put money on it!) and he’s damned sexy to boot! And he’s using the fabulous travellator to great effect!
Armenia – Part Armenian and part English. Tight performance from beautiful sisters in gorgeous costumes with lovely Rapunzel hair. I have money on this one finishing top four.

Russia – Terrible on every level. A truly awful song and a dire performance by billionaire’s daughter wearing a shower curtain. Clever aging effect on the screens though. Russia obviously can’t afford to win twice in a row judging by this entry!
Azerbaijan – Decent song but below-average performance. She did OK, but he was well below par in a bizarre reversal of how they did in the semi final.
Bosnia & Herzegovina – Depressing rendition of a dire dirge. Makes me want to slash my wrists listening to this one! Surprised this one got into the final to be honest.

Moldova – What’s with the Mariachi band backing track? And the bizarre River Dance stuff? Catchy tune and energetic performance though. Diggin’ the purple suede boots – where can I get some?

Malta – Nice voice, simple rendition, but the song isn’t all that impressive – very middle-of-the-road and unadventurous. And the ending was a direct steal from the Bonanza theme tune!

Estonia – Good performance, but not much to it. Tuneful and a lovely voice, but the song didn’t really go anywhere and had a weak finish.

Denmark – Penned by Ronan Keating and might as well have been sung by him. Standard Boyzone fare. Uninspiring.
Germany – A little bit swing and with the seductive Dita Von Tease slowly losing clothes throughout the performance. Great stuff!
Turkey – This is the other one I put money on finishing top four, but the performance on the night was just a spot off. Wish I’d put the money on Ukraine or Albania instead.
Albania – Wearing a short meringue and dancing with a green gimp and two dwarves wearing Joker make-up. Wind machine ahoy! Catchy tune and well performed.
Norway – He’s cute as a pixie (needs some tweezers taken to his eyebrows though) and the tune is infectious. Possibly aiming for the Russian/Balkan vote, judging by the style.
Romania – Pretty costumes, pretty girls, pretty awful. Actually, they gave a decent enough performance, I just found the song really same-y and nothing-y.
UK – I have to say straight off that I hate this song. Andrew Lloyd Webber should stick to musicals. I also can’t stand that Jade lassie – her voice warbles all over the place. Last year we had a great entry with a fantastic performance – we’ve taken a huge step backwards with this dross. Insipid song and terrible performance.
Finland – Spirited performance but didn’t people learn about entering a song with rapping from the UK’s entry a few years back? (Daz with Teenage Life – one of the UK’s lowest Eurovision moments!). Finland should have gone with Surrender by Passionworks (which was one of the contenders) – it was a far better song and would have stood them a far better chance of winning.
Spain – I love her haircut! Very strong performance with a good song.

Interval entertainment:
More excellent Cirque de Soleil wonderment. These guys really are the pinacle of circuse permance art – they’re always spectacular! Really bizarre swimming-pool antics tha were stunning to watch.

What we bet on:
Dale and I both put money on Greece to win and between us bet on Turkey, Armenia, Ukraine and Albania as possibilities to finish in the top four, so I’m hoping they’ll all come in!

The results:

  1. Norway (with 387 points – more than any other winner in the history of Eurovivison, smashing Finland’s record from 2006 when Lordi won it with 292 points singing Hard Rock Hallelujah!)
  2. Iceland (218 points)
  3. Azerbaijan (207 points)
  4. Turkey (177 points) – DING-DING-DING! I win a tiny amount of cash!
  5. United Kingdom (173 points)

Greece finished 7th with 120 points
Armenia finished 10th with 92 points
Ukraine finished 12th with 76 points
Albania finished 17th with 48 points

It’s rather disappointing that Greece didn’t do better – we really thought they’d be right up there with their fantastic entry this year; and the UK did far better than we expected, finishing in the top five. I only won a tiny amount from one of my bets – the each-way I’d placed on Turkey.

And didn’t Graham Norton do well with his commentary? A worthy successor to Mr Wogan who made the evening sparkle with his witticisms. I had my reservations as I’m no fan of his, but he did a sterling job.


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May 14, 2009 at 10:42 pm (Baby) (, , , , , , , )

Xander – Standing up on Daddy on the sofa 12.05.09

I’m pleased to report that the sleep training has been an unmitigated success! Xander now has a regular routine and goes down for his morning nap some time between 9.00 and 9.30am without a fuss (a few minutes of crying at the very most) and will happily sleep for anything between 30 minutes and 1hr 30mins! He goes down for his afternoon nap some time between 1.00pm and 1.30pm (if at home – and sometimes closer to 2.00pm if we’re out and about in his buggy) and will sleep for roughly the same amount of time (if his morning nap is long, his afternoon nap is shorter and vice versa). He goes to bed around 7.00pm (give or take five or ten minutes) with a minimum of fuss and will only cry for any length of time if he is overtired, but even then, he’s sound asleep inside of 20 minutes nine times out of ten (and in less than one minute most of the time!).

He’s also sleeping through the night! He’ll wake once or twice but will go back to sleep himself, without us having to go through to see to him, after a few minutes of feeling a little sorry for himself.

“Up time” is any time between about 6.00am and 7.00am (although the other day he was awake at 5.30am and complaining loudly – I waited to see if he would go back to sleep, but at 6.00am he was still crying so I got him up after all).

Our day is now far more structured:

Up some time between 6am and 7am
Breakfast starting some time between 7am and 7.15am
Play time
Put down for nap some time between 9am and 9.30am
Up some time between 10am and 11am
Play time
Lunch at 12pm
Time with Daddy when he gets home from work
Put down for nap some time between 1pm and 1.30pm
Up some time between 2pm and 3pm
Play time
Afternoon snack around 4pm
Dinner at 5pm (he has finger food consisting of a little of whatever we’re having and has a go at feeding himself)
Bath at 6pm
Supper at 6.30pm
Bedtime story, cuddles and quiet songs
Put to bed some time between 6.50pm and 7.10pm after final milk feed

When he naps through the day I’m able to actually get things done! I can do some laundry, do prep for our next meal, do a little cross stitch or perhaps do a little reading if I have the time. I’m actually starting to feel a little more like myself again, which is great, and feel able to accomplish things at long last!

Of course, some days we’re out and about, but we always go out either immediately before or after a nap so that Xander can sleep in the buggy (if it’s nap time) or be wakeful and see everything around him (if he’s just had a nap). We’ve been going to lunch once a month with a group of local Mums and babies for a while now and it’s become much easier since we did the whole sleep training thing. I’m able to schedule appointments and meet with friends more easily because I know roughly when Xander will be waking and when he will need to nap – it’s great being able to see windows in my life where I can schedule activities!

And best of all, my return to work has been delayed by almost a month as I have to use up my accrued full-time annual leave before returning, so that I will only accrue part-time annual leave when I go back, as I’ll only be working afternoons till the end of the year. So now I get to stay home with Xander till 10 July (I expected to return to the officwe on 15 June), which is a Friday, so I’ll only have to work one afternoon my first week back – a nice way to ease back into things! I’m so lucky to have such accommodating employers!

Of course, if I win the lottery between now and then, I won’t be going back at all as I would love to be a Stay-At-Home-Mum if we could only afford it (as things are at the moment, it’s just not possible).

P.S. On a different note – Xander has TWO teeth now! His second tooth poked through the gum next to the first one a week ago and he made very little fuss about it. We’re so proud of our toothy little boy!

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Sleep Training…

May 5, 2009 at 3:40 pm (Baby) (, , , , )

Xander playing with one of his toys this afternoon after his nap

Seeing as how I’ve not been able to sleep for more than 2 1/2 hours straight since I was 20 weeks pregnant, we thought it was best to try and sort out Xander’s sleeping patterns and habits. Up till now, he’s only ever fallen asleep if in the buggy, in the car, on the breast or, after breastfeeding, on my shoulder, and that’s not good. We did try to use Elizabeth Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution but it categorically DID NOT work for us. I’m sure other people have found it useful, but all it succeeded in doing for us was to get me more and more frustrated and stressed out whilst making not a jot of difference to Xander’s ability to go to sleep by himself.

So we finally accepted defeat and decided to try what I wanted to avoid if at all possible – controlled crying. To do this, we had to move Xander’s cot out of our bedroom and into his nursery, which felt really strange – I’m used to having him sleeping right next to me where I can see him.

It took us a while to actually find information on how, exactly, to go about it, but once we had the know-how, we made a start on Sunday past. Xander got put in his cot on Sunday night and cried for an hour before falling asleep. He then woke half an hour later and cried for another hour before sleeping. He slept till midnight but then wanted to be fed. After breastfeeding, he cried and slept, off and on, all night till about 6am when he went to sleep and stayed that way till 8am (an hour later than I’d meant for him to sleep, but I slept too, and only woke when he was crying again – oops!).

Throughout Monday, we continued the controlled crying for his morning and afternoon naps, at both of which he screamed for an hour then slept for about 10 or 15 minutes total.

Monday night, he clicked halfway through his bath that bedtime was approaching and got very upset! He cried all through his supper and then we put him in his cot at 6.50pm. He cried for exactly two minutes and then fell asleep! He didn’t wake up till 3.55am, whimpered for a couple of minutes and went back to sleep without having a night feed! He then slept till 7am on the dot!

At nap time this morning, I put him in his cot at 9.10am and he cried for 50 minutes (I went in after 40 minutes as per the schedule and had to move him back down his cot and put his blankets over him again as he’d squiggled his way right up!), but then slept for 40 minutes (I had to move the blankets up to cover him as he’d moved again). Not too bad. This afternoon, we put laid him down at 1.15pm and he cried as I was leaving. I went into the kitchen to put the milk I’d expressed into the fridge. When I came out again, he’d stopped crying. I waited 10 minutes just to be sure and then checked on him – he was out like a light! He hadn’t even moved so I didn’t have to move his blankets at all. He slept soundly till 2.55pm.

So, now we just have to see how he does tonight. Fingers crossed that he goes down without too much fuss and sleeps quickly, soundly, and through the night!

P.S. He seems to have forgiven me for leaving him in his own room all alone as after a little coaxing he actually gave me a grin and a kiss. 🙂

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7 months old today!

April 24, 2009 at 8:52 am (Baby) (, , )

Xander haing his tooth brushed after breakfast this morning

I can’t believe it – my baby is not so little any more! Xander is seven months old today and is definitely more a little boy than a baby these days! Time really does fly when you’re having fun…

… Speaking of which, I’m off to play with my lovely boy for a while before it’s nap time. 🙂

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Feeding, brushing and Expressing…

April 22, 2009 at 3:09 pm (Baby) (, , , , , )

Xander enjoying his lunch and attempting to feed himself with his spoon!

Xander is really improving on the feeding front! He’ll now happily eat savoury food without me having to pull the old switcheroo and making him think he’s getting a spoonful of pudding! Of course, he still like pudding best of all, with his favourites being egg custard, banana custard and banana chocolate pudding! However, he’ll now eat the two packet-mix savoury meals of cauliflower and broccoli cheese, and Mediterranean vegetables and rice. He won’t touch the savoury jars, though – not that I blame him, as they’re pretty disgusting!

He’ll occasionally agree to have some masshed vegetables that I’ve cooked at home, although he really hates potato and will be heartily sick if it’s even in his mouth – not even swallowed! And he’ll sometimes take a few lumpier things, like a piece of bread with chocolate spread on it, or some garlic bread, or a little bit of chicken or sausage, or some such thing. However, if I give him finger food, he’ll not get any of it into his mouth – he just bashes it off his tray and throws it on the floor, although a bit of cooked carrot will briefly get put into his mouth and pulled out again a few times before the bashing and throwing happens!

Xander will also happily drink from a sippy cup, and although he can hold the cup himself and manoeuvre the spout into his mouth, he hasn’t quite got the hang of tipping it up to drink from it – he needs a hand with that. Mostly, though, he likes to shake it about so that the water comes out of the spout and then he sucks it off the lid!

A good thing is that he seems to really like his toothbrush! When he sees me coming with it after his feeds, he opens his mouth wide and lets me brush his tooth (which is now poking right through his gum a fair bit!). Then, when I give him the brush afterwards, he’ll happily chew on it for a while before banging it off his tray to make a lot of noise!

On top of all this, I’m expressing again. I’ll be returning to work in the middle of June and I need to be able to express breast milk for Xander to have while I’m away. I do have a manual pump, but it’s lost suction and I’m having to hand-express instead. It’s quite a comical sight – me feeding Xander on one breast with a small pot stuck in my bra on the other side to catch the drips when the milk lets down, and then squeezing away while Xander sucks – I feel a bit like I’m a big dairy cow! At the moment, I’m using the milk I express to make up his bedtime cereal. Apparently breast milk has hormones in it that helps babies sleep, so at bedtime he’s now getting a double whammy of those hormones by having them in his cereal AND straight from the breast. Right enough, it does seem to be improving his first stretch of sleep as he’ll now go down for anything up to 3 1/2 hours before waking up, which is amazing! Unfortunately, he still wakes another two to three times throughout the course of the night/early hours of the morning for further feeds, but it’s getting easier now…

And in a couple of days, he’ll be seven months old – where has the time gone to?!

Having his tooth brushed!

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Roly-Poly Boy – Again!

April 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm (Baby) (, )

Standing up on Daddy’s knee yesterday

After rolling over for the first time from his back to his front, Xander has proven reluctant to repeat his trick (lazy boy!), but this morning he did it when we weren’t looking!

I’d laid him down for his nap in his cot and popped him down on his tummy (he seems to sleep better that way) while I went in the bath. Later on, when we heard him stirring, Dale went through to the bedroom to check on him and found he was now on his back!

We’ve been coaxing him a fair bit today and all to no avail – he’s a modest boy who doesn’t like to show off too much (LOL!). Still, I’m sure he’ll be rolling all over the place in no time at all and we’ll be wishing he would just stay still! 😉

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April 9, 2009 at 9:14 pm (Baby) (, , )

Xander, this afternoon, sitting up on the sofa and taking a swipe at the camera!

Drumroll, pleas… *drrrrr-drrrrrrrr-drrrrrrrrrr!*

Xander has cut his first tooth!

We noticed just yesterday morning that Xander’s bottom front right tooth was just below the surface and almost ready to break through his gum, and this morning when we took him to get weighed (17lbs 8oz now!), the Health Visitor said it could pop through at any moment. Well, after lunch it did just that!

It’s only just poking through, but already it feels a little like my nipple is getting grated when he nurses…

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April 4, 2009 at 8:41 pm (Baby) (, , )

After refusing point blank to eat anything remotely lumpy, and even turning up his nose at smooth stuff all day today, Xander surprised us both at supper time.

Dale had ordered pizza, cheesy garlic bread and breaded chicken goujons and handed some over to me. Xander showed some interest in what was going in my mouth while he was sitting on my knee, so I broke off a little of the garlic bread and, when he opened his mouth for it, popped it inside. To our amazement, he started gumming it to pieces and then swallowed it! So I gave him a little more – same response. I then decided to see what he would do with a bit of the chicken. His eyes lit up as he gummed away the small morsel I’d given him, and another swiftly followed!

I think perhaps I’ll just keep sitting him on my knee after his own food and trying him with the larger lumps from my own plate for a while and see what he does…

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Roly-Poly Boy!

April 2, 2009 at 10:34 pm (Baby) (, , )

Xander – just after his rolling-over trick!

For ages now, Xander has been rolling onto his side from his back but getting stuck there and just jiggling his legs about, but tonight we hit something of a major milestone: Tonight, while getting Xander ready for bed, he rolled right over from his back onto his tummy! He wasn’t reaching for anything and no amount of enticing him with toys could persuade him to repeat his new trick, but I’m sure that now he’s done it once, he’ll be doing it again very soon…

I’m so proud I could burst!

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March 25, 2009 at 10:20 am (Baby) (, , )

My giggly, smiley boy!

For a while now, Xander has been giving it the old “Mumumum”, “Dadada” and “Bababa”, but this morning, I think I was treated to my first proper “Mama”!

He was in his bouncer while I was on the computer, so I wasn’t looking at him, when suddenly he shouted “Mama!” which made me look up in surprise. He then bounced a couple more times, then raised his arms to be lifted and said it again, “Mama!” like he was specifically asking me to pick him up out of his bouncer!

Of course, I’m grinning like the Cheshire Cat now! It might be a fluke, but I’m choosing to see it as Xander finally recognising my new name. And just a couple of days after my first Mothers’ Day too!

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