Always a fun and exciting day, we had our Holt orientation this morning and received Leah's red folder.....it has information about her schedule, her personality, her likes and dislikes as well as our itinerary for the next 10 days. We also received one new picture of her. We are told she is quiet and shy with strangers, she loves riding wooden horse and driving toy cars (her and Josh will get along just fine!), she likes stuffed animals and playing ball. She is fond of fruits and milk and she eats steamed rice with meat and vegetables often. It goes on to give her sleep schedule and her height and weight. All of this information is helpful in not only knowing some of what to expect when we meet her, but also in ways of helping her transition. We meet her at 2pm on Monday, China time, which is 11pm Sunday night back home, so if you're awake and you think about it, if you would lift her up in prayer about that time, that would be awesome!
After the orientation, we had lunch at the hotel then headed to Tiananmenn Square and Forbidden City. It was another hot day, so we had a bit of a rushed tour, but it is an area we never tire of seeing. Again, the history behind these places is absolutely incredible! We took a lot of pics & will send them to post tomorrow. Built in the early 1400's, the Forbidden City housed the Emperor, his family, dignitaries and the Emporer's concubines. It has 9,999 1/2 rooms......just under the 10,000 they believe that the heaven's held and it would be unacceptable to have more that what the heaven's held! Not sure how they did 1/2 a room, but it sounds good. There is a giant picture of Chairman Mao at the entrance to the Forbidden City.....its actually a painting, and they replace it every year just before a certain date (I can't remember if its his birthday, or the day he passed away, something like that). They have a great respect for this man and how he ushered in "New China", as they call it. The city is HUGE and it is hard to imagine someone living there. We saw rooms where the Emporer took a break from his Emperor duties, his living quarters and his wife's living quarters, his office, a huge, beautiful hall that was used only 10 times per year for parties, and the famous, "the power behind the curtain" room, where the mother of the 4-year-old Emporer sat in a throne behind the little Emperor with a curtain separating them, and told her son what to do, what decisions to make, etc. At that time, women were not allowed to be involved in or see state affairs, hence the curtain. She essentially ran the country for 40 years until her death, but she ran it from behind the scenes.
After leaving Forbidden City, we went to a silk factory where they showed us how they pull silk from the cocoon of a silkworm......incredibly intricate and tedious work, but it makes for some really, really soft material. We had bought a comforter for Makena when we were here in 2005 and missed the tour in 2008, so we bought one for Josh and Leah this time. The duvet covers were BEAUTIFUL, but very expensive, so we opted for just the comforter and will give them to the kids when they are older. Then we were sent upstairs where they was a whole floor of silk attire.....Makena and Leah now have matching dresses and Josh has a cool little Chinese outfit, as well as some angry birds chopsticks. These people really know how to make a sale to tourists :) And we are suckers for things that remind us of where our kids came from.
Back to the hotel just in time for dinner. We joined two other families and thought we'd be adventurous....we heard of a great hot pot restaurant, but when we got there and were ushered to our own private back room, we realized that it was basically like fondue but with meats and vegetables. Our first thought was that the kids would all burn themselves, our second thought was that seeing as the staff spoke no english and we speak very very little mandarin, we may end up with something that would leave us not feeling so well and that is not a great idea the night before we board a plane. We ended up at Pizza Hut and had some pretty awesome pizza.
Well, off to bed, as we have an early morning and long day ahead. We'll post (or send Kami to post) pictures once we get to our next hotel and get all settled. Praying that everyone is doing well back home!