Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jen Hatmaker - After the Airport

This is also a MUST READ!

Jen Hatmaker - After the Airport

"You cannot just be into adoption to adopt; you have to be into parenting.

And it is hard, hard, intentional, laborious work. Children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, given away, given up, and left alone are shaken so deeply, so intrinsically, they absolutely require parents who are willing to wholly invest in their healing; through the screaming, the fits, the anger, the shame, the entitlement, the bed-wetting, the spitting, the rejection, the bone-chilling fear. Parents who are willing to become the safe place, the Forever these children hope for but are too terrified to believe in just yet.

But "yet" is a powerful word in the context of faith, if we are indeed to believe in the unseen and hope for what has not materialized.

I followed a God into this story who heals and redeems, who restores wasted years and mends broken places. This God specializes in the Destroyed. I've seen it. I've been a part of it. I have His ancient Word that tells of it. I love a Jesus who made reconciliation his whole mission. My children will not remain broken. They are loved by too good a Savior. I will not remain exhausted and spent. I am loved by too merciful a Father."

Jen Hatmaker - How to Be The Village

I love Jen Hatmaker.  I discovered her blog when we were first researching adoption.  I didn't even know that she was a published author and public speaker at the time.  I had the opportunity to hear her speak at my parents' church after we had started the process.  I thought I would share a couple of her blog posts on adoption that are so real.  I've referred back to them over the months and years. 

It's hard to believe that we are now post-adoption! We are seemingly exiting the honeymoon stage and recognizing behaviors that need to be corrected, one of which is indiscriminate affection toward people they have just met. As a result, we are cracking down on hugs and kisses. Hugs and kisses are only for Mommy, Daddy, and sisters. Hugs are for grandparents. Hand-shakes or high 5's are for friends. If you see us around town and my new kids try to hug and kiss you, please redirect their affection back to us, their parents. This type of behavior is not uncommon in children who have been institutionalized, but it is a coping mechanism that helped them to survive before they became our family. While this behavior appears to be very charming, it can be dangerous if directed toward an unsafe person, and it undermines the family bonds that we are working so hard to establish. Thanks so much for understanding, Friends!

Jen Hatmaker - How to Be The Village

"Supporting Families After the Airport

You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.)

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for awhile. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair.

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from.

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better.

5. If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days. "

Christmas Eve

We were blessed to spend Christmas Eve with friends who are like family. It was awesome to see Ajay and Smita interacting with other children who had also come home from India this year. Among us were four beautiful children experiencing their first Christmas home with their families! So many answered prayers!!!
Project 5 X 7 came to life! This is the photo of the night of our big Project 5 x 7 fundraiser alongside our Christmas Eve photo with the children HOME! Two other little girls are home as well, but because they now reside in a different town, they were not able to be in this particular photo. Hope to have everyone together one day soon!

First Christmas

On last year's Christmas, we found the surprise of our U.S. approval for the children to be classified as our immediate relatives in our mailbox. One long year later, they finally made it home. (After a year of the U.S. approvals, it took another year for the !ndia approvals...way too long of a wait for children needing families.) We are so thankful that Ajay and Smita finally celebrated their first Christmas! They were our greatest gift this year. The children had learned about Christmas trees and Santa from the orphanage, and they learned about baby Jesus once they arrived in America. They attended a candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve. What a privilege to be able to teach them about the one true God and the Light of the world. Happy Birthday, Jesus! We hope that all of you had a very blessed Christmas!

Smita--"Smiling Lady"

I was immediately attracted to Smita's eyes and her smile when we saw the referral picture for her...and how awesome that her name means smiling lady! Smiles are usually the first thing I notice about people when I first meet them.

Smita has fit right in to our family. She is cheerful, peaceful, affectionate, and smart! She can be independent, but she is allowing us to meet all of her needs which is great for bonding and attachment. She will allow us to feed her, hold her, rock her, bathe her, dress her and much more...but she is fully capable of doing all of these thing herself if asked to do so. Smita loves to hug and kiss her family and she is sure to compliment everyone on their appearance or on any food that is served. Her favorite words are BEAUTIFUL and SO SWEET. Her favorite color is pink. Smita is compassionate. If anyone is the family seems sad, she asks if they are crying and tries to comfort them. Her verbal English language skills are coming along great. She makes every effort to speak to us in English whereas Ajay is still only using Gujarati or Hindi. Smita interprets for him. We were told that Smita is good at art and singing. She loves to sing in the car...she has quickly learned some radio and movie songs from America and remembers about 20 songs from India. She will sing for 30 minutes straight when given an audience! Although we were told that Smita is in second grade and Ajay is in third, they need to start in either kindergarten or first grade here in America. Smita definitely has the potential to be academically successful in America, but both children need to start from the very beginning to build a strong foundation for American schools. They know the English alphabet, but not the sounds that the letters make. They do not know how to read in any language as far as I can tell. They can count to 100, but do not know how to add or subtract. They have tried to add using their fingers, but are only right 50 percent of the time. Smita is very concerned about fairness and wants everything to be completely equal. If she perceives that anything is unfair or that things are not going the way she wants, she will shut down and not respond to anything we say or do...she pouts. This only lasts a little while, then she returns to her cheerful self. We've had a few sad tears, but they do not last long. It's tough work for a new child who has never had a family to learn that not everything is fair and equal 100 percent of the time and that children do not have free reign of the household. Smita is a girlie-girl and loves to wear dresses, hair bows, necklaces, nail polish, and make-up. She loves to play with dolls and jump on the trampoline. She goes with the flow and does not seem to fear much. She is also a typical girl in that she loves to tattle on her siblings. After being home for two weeks, she expressed an interest in moving out of our room into her big girl bed. We allowed her to make the transition as she sleeps soundly through the night, and she has had no problem making the move to the room which she shares with her sister. We have noticed that she gets insecure when we give hugs and attention to our biological daughters. She immediately wants hugs and attention for herself and will do whatever it takes to get that attention. This does not come as a surprise based on all of our adoption education. Smita is adjusting remarkably well and has been a joy to our family so far. We are very thankful for her.

We are coming up on the one month mark of meeting our new children. I would say that we are no longer in the "honeymoon" stage. They are now comfortable enough to start showing more of their personalities, expressing displeasure at things, bickering with each other in front of us, trying to share details of their past, etc. We are seeing more behaviors that are a result of being institutionalized. We are working on discipline, manners, and appropriate ways to express emotions and affection. Our early days with them have been tiring, and it has been a huge life change for all of us, but so far we consider ourselves to be extremely fortunate in how they are bonding/adjusting to our family and how our bio kids are accepting them. Ajay and Smita seem to belong here.

If time permits in the weeks to come, I would like to keep it real and share some of the brokenness that comes along with adoption. I really appreciate the families who have openly shared their challenges as it has helped to educate and prepare us for dealing with the same potential issues.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ajay--"Invincible, Unconquerable"

Friends are requesting updates on the children. Ajay and Smita are a bundle of non-stop action. I will tackle Ajay first since he is the oldest...then Smita.
We are in awe of how well Ajay and Smita are adjusting to life in our American family! Given that we knew very little about the children other than photos and a short video clip, we prepared ourselves for the worst-case scenarios and set no expectations for the children. The bonding and adjustments are going better than we dreamed possible.

All four of our children are getting along great. Ajay and Smita anxiously anticipate the arrival of their sisters when they return home from school. It is sweet to see the big embraces when they walk through the door. They all love to jump on the trampoline together for at least an hour every afternoon, even in the cold! Two days after the children came home, Ansley (9) walked into my room carrying Smita (9) in her arms like a baby and said, "Mommy, I wasn't excited about the adoption at first (two-years-ago), but now I am soooo happy about it!" That was an awesome moment!

So after having the children home in America for about 10 days, here is a little update:

Ajay (10):
Ajay is happy, affectionate, and full of energy. His morning begins with lots of hugs, kisses, and "good mornings" for everyone. It's hard to get up grouchy with his smile in your face! The orphanage labeled him as "naughty." He does tend to get into "trouble" sometimes (dumping red melted Scentsy wax on the carpet, running across the carpet in muddy shoes, breaking a Christmas ornament, spilling his drink), but a lot of his mischief is due to curiosity. When he realizes his mistake, he is usually sincerely apologetic and does his best not to repeat it. Overall, his desire is to obey and to please his parents. Ajay is an entertainer. He loves music and is attracted to every instrument that he, keyboards, pianos, drums, kazoos, recorders. He sings beautifully, and he has Bollywood-style dancing skills! Ajay has a sense of humor and likes to tease and joke around. At the Hindi-speaking pediatrician's office, the children received a flu shot. When the doctor explained that they would get an injection, Ajay said in his best macho voice, "Give me the big one!" The doctor said that he definitely has a sense of humor. One afternoon, I was finishing off a candy cane when Ajay said that he wanted some. There was no more left, so I took a piece out of my mouth and offered it to him. I think I offended him, because he screamed, waved his hand in the air and said, "no, no, no, no." He loves to give me a hard time about that incident. Every day, he holds his fingers up to his mouth like he's taking something out of it, then acts like he's offering it to me, then says, "no, no, no, no," then we both laugh. He won't let me forget about it! Very cute! When Ajay doesn't get his way, he will whine sometimes, but that is becoming less frequent as he is learning that it will get him absolutely nothing. Whining is common in orphanages and usually caregivers will give into it just to get the children to be quiet. Ajay shows compassion to others when they are sad. If his new sisters are crying or pouting over something, he will give them hugs and kisses. We are starting to discern between three different kinds of hugs from Ajay: loving hug, apologetic hug, manipulative hug. The last one comes when he is asking for something that he wants (toy, tv, candy) that he thinks he might not get. We're on to his ways...haha! Ajay likes to play with all toys including Barbie dolls and kitchen sets. In an orphanage of 100 children, there were only 5 boys, so he basically lived with women and girls. If the girls are wearing boots, he wants boots. If the girls are wearing a necklace and bracelet, he wants those, too. He squeals and flails his arms like a girl because that's all he's ever been around. Ajay likes fashion and enjoys accessorizing all of his outfits with belts, hats, sunglasses, etc. However, in lots of ways, Ajay is all boy. Jeff looks forward to eventually training him in Jui Jitsu...Jeff thinks he has the perfect lean limbs to twist up like a spider man on the mat. Ajay is flirty (probably due to all the movies he was exposed to in India), he is romantic (gives flowers, gifts, kisses, compliments), and I think he will be a heart-breaker one day! Ajay is the size of a six-year-old, due to malnutrition and probably some genetics. His maturity level is also like a six-year-old. He definitely does not act like a typical ten-year-old boy. This does not come as a surprise due to the number of years that he was institutionalized. We are still unwrapping all of the layers that make up Ajay. He is fun, loving, peaceful, and affectionate...a dream come true. When we were trying to decide whether or not to accept the referral of the children, Ajay was our main concern due to his age (older than one of our bio daughters) and a label of delayed speech. No one could tell us what the issue was with his speech. We ordered psychological evaluations for him plus an IQ test which really told us absolutely nothing in the end. The test results took four long months to get back. During that time, we flip-flopped repeatedly on whether to accept the referral or not...we had no idea what we would be up against. In the end, we felt that they were our children and that we were supposed say yes to them regardless of the test results. When the doctor's report finally came in, their was a middle name given to Ajay. We knew he had a middle initial of A, but didn't know what it stood for... His name was written "Ajay Ashokbhai." I love researching the meaning of names, so I hurried to find the meaning of Ashokbhai. Bhai is often attached to the end of male names, means "brother," and shows respect or affection. I translated Ashokbhai to mean "brother who will not cause sorrow." In other words, we would not be sorry for saying yes to Ajay. Speaking of names, name meanings must be very significant in India because several times when we mentioned the children's names, they would share the meaning of the name with us. Several men (taxi drivers, tour guide) got excited when they heard the name Ajay. Ajay means invincible and unconquerable. All of the men said that Ajay was a strong name and meant "champion." Interesting! So far, Ajay radiates joy, and we are all falling in love with him.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Our journey home went very smoothly!  We left the hotel in Delhi at midnight and were on a plane to Amsterdam around 3:00 AM.  That flight lasted about 8 1/2 hours.  All of the TV screens were broken on the plane, so the kids slept the whole time.  We had a brief layover in Amsterdam which gave us just enough time to use the restroom and eat some donuts.  Our flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta, Georgia was another 9 hours.  We all "watched movies" (more like adjusting and readjusting the kids' TV screen for hours) and slept.  Jeff got kicked a lot, so he went through an hour where he was totally grouchy (ha ha!) but the kids were really great the whole trip.  When we landed in Atlanta, Ajay and Smita officially became citizens of the United States of America!  Amazing!!!  Throughout the flights, they recited family members' names on their own without our prompting.  They also kept asking if we were in America.  When we finally landed in America and we were able to say, "yes, we're in America," Ajay grabbed both of our hands, lifted all of our hands in the air and gave a triumphant cheer!  It was a thrill to see his enthusiasm of arriving to America!  He yelled, "Yesssss!  America!"

We went through customs and immigration where we had to hand over our sealed envelopes from the U.S. Embassy in Delhi.  That whole process took an hour which was mostly waiting in line for our turn. We found our luggage immediately, then walked through the doors that all of our friends have walked through before us to greet our waiting family members.  It was a great moment!  The children ran for their sisters, then hugged grandparents and their aunt.  After skyping and facetiming all week in India, they recognized their family!  

After taking photos, we went to Chick-Fil-A for their first meal on American soil so that family members could spend a little more time with the children.  Ajay tried meat for the first time--chicken.  The state where they are from is all vegetarian.  

We finally loaded in the van for our two hour drive home.  The kids buckled up in seatbelts with little fuss and fell asleep on the ride home.  Jeff and I had to switch off driving three times because we could barely stay awake!  

We have the most precious supportive friends and an amazing community group from church back home, and they were waiting for us on our driveway to welcome us home and to meet Ajay and Smita!  There were balloons on our mailbox and they had stocked our fridge and pantry!  What an awesome surprise and a huge blessing!  It was great to see friends who have held our hands, wiped our tears, and prayed for us from the very beginning of this long endeavor!  

Once inside our home, we gave the kids a tour, showed them their rooms, and pulled out the toys...mainly Barbie dolls.  All four of our kids got along great.  It was like Ajay and Smita have been a part of us all along...they sort of have been for two years now, just not with us physically until now. Alaina and Ansley kept saying that it felt like dream having them home.  They could not wipe the smiles from their faces.  So sweet!  They are afraid of Willow, our maltese.  They have seen dogs on the street, but have never interacted with a pet before. 

The kids got baths, slept through the night in our room, got up early and ate a huge breakfast.  They ate breakfast burritos, bananas, apples, and dry cereal.  Two hours later, they ate a batch of pancakes dipped in tomato soup.  They also drank two cups of warm milk and some mango juice.  They are building up more courage around Willow and have pet him a little.  Ajay is interested in every musical instrument he sees, so he spent some time playing on the piano.  

We are seeing a little bit of regression with Smita.  She says "Mommy" literally every 15 seconds.  I keep saying "yes" and giving her hugs and kisses.  I wonder how long this will last.  She needs lots of reassuring, and that's okay (Indian head bob) with me.  We will reassure as long as it takes.  Ajay asked if we were going to Ahmedabad.  He asks this everyday.  I told him no and he whined.  He told me that he misses his caregiver.  So sad.  On a positive note, they were apparently very attached to their caregiver.  She cared for them and rocked them as babies, so she has been with them all of their lives.  All studies show that the fact that they were attached to her means that they have the capacity to bond and reattach to us. They were clearly loved at the orphanage based on the way that they are transferring that love to us already.  Their caregiver has a name that I considered giving Smita for a first name--it means God's Grace.  I did not choose that name, however, because it rhymes with Smita and would sound too funny.  We are thankful that the kids were cared for so well and were able to attach to a loving person in their early years.  Please keep the kids in your prayers as they become adjusted to our home and family.  I fully expect them to go through a grieving process when they realize that we will not be returning to Ahmedabad.  They only know what they have experienced and do not yet know the true wonders and joy of a family's love.  They will grow to know that love in time, but until then, please pray for their little hearts and minds as they experience huge changes.  

Thanks to all of you who kept us in your thoughts and prayers over the last two years and on our trip to India.  Honestly, it could not have gone better!  All the prayers were answered and God's hand was in everything.  We look forward to the day when Ajay and Smita are able to understand just how many people came together to provide for their adoption and to help bring them home to a forever family.  We will remember you all forever!

We will continue to post updates on their progress!  :)

Grandparents, sister, and auntie wait at the airport for our arrival...

Our family waited with awesome welcome home signs and balloons!

Our family of six together at last!!!
Memommy and Granddaddy...
Gramma and Grampa...
Grandparents with the newest grandchildren...
Uncle John!
First meal on American soil...Chick-Fil-A!
Daddy and his girls...
The ride home...
Tour of the house...
Doll Closet!
Barbie Time!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Last Hours In Delhi and Homeward Bound!

Today was Election Day and lots of voting booths and swat teams could be seen around town.  Because of voting, all shops were closed down except one mall in Gurgeon about 45 minutes away.  
We took a cab down to the mall to see what souvenirs we might be able to pick up.  Most of the stores were chain stores that we would see in America, but we were able to find some cricket bats for Ajay and a Barbie for Smita.  The intention was to purchase an Indian Barbie for her, but she was adamant that she wanted the blond Barbie, not the brown one.  
Ajay and Smita tried their first McDonald's ice cream cone in the mall.  Not a drip from Smita, but as soon as we got back in the cab, Ajay bit off the bottom of his cone which made ice cream squirt out from both ends.  Jeff had to think fast and toss it out the window!  
Since it was our last day at the hotel, the kids had to pose with the elephants at the entrance.
Jeff went up to the roof to watch the sunset over New Delhi...
We took the kids to the pool one last time tonight.  It was super windy and cold up there, but the water felt like a warm bath.  Smita did not want to get into the water tonight due to the chilly air.  We got in with Ajay, but he was very apprehensive about the water tonight.  We lasted all of five minutes before we were out of there!  It was too cold to hang out if no one was having fun.

Ajay saw the photo of his sister's crazy bathtub hair last night, and he wanted to show his fun side, too.  He did this to his hair then begged for me to take a photograph.  Cute!
The kids are now in bed asleep.  Jeff and I are packing suitcases.  We will catch a couple of hours of sleep, then head to the airport a little after midnight to catch a 3 AM flight.  Delhi--Amsterdam--Atlanta.  We land in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon.  We can't wait to have our family of six all together under one roof!  Please keep us in your prayers as we travel for well over 24 hours with these two cuties.  I can't imagine how Ajay is going to be able to sit still that long!   By the way, we had no tears today, and Ajay has gone two days without making rude hand gestures.  I guess Jeff's "NOOOOO" did the trick!  

Catch up with y'all when we land in America!  When we touch down in Atlanta, Ajay and Smita Carroll will officially be U.S. Citizens!  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dec. 4--Our Official Business is Complete!

Every early morning begins with a Skype session as our girls are going to bed at night, and our afternoons end with Skype as they are getting ready to go to school in their morning.  The kids are so ready to meet their siblings in person!  We are excited about coming home!
We savored our last breakfast in the hotel restaurant this morning.  The buffet is amazing.  I have no doubt that Ajay and Smita are going to be disappointed when they realize that I cannot whip out an instantaneous dosa masala along with all of the fruits, nuts, and muffins that they have been enjoying.  I will step up my game, though, because these children desperately need nutrition! 

Ajay is a momma's boy...
Smita is a daddy's girl...
One last morning of delicious chai...
Ajay is blissfully enjoying a full belly...
Family Photo During Breakfast...
It's nothing but hugs and kisses around these two.  They are so full of love and affection.
They grabbed each other's hands and held them up for this photo.  Sweet!
We were at the U.S. Embassy at 11:00 AM and a few minutes later we walked out with U.S. Visas in the children's Indian passports, Hague Adoption Certificates, and two huge yellow sealed envelopes to be opened by immigration when we land in Atlanta.  WE. ARE. OFFICIAL!  At the Embassy the children used the "Magic Toilets" that another adoptive family told us about.  The flushing of the toilets and the water in the sinks were automatic.  Smita looked so confused!  It was hilarious!  We caught our first rickshaw back to the hotel from the Embassy.  We HAD to do it at least once!  Because no cameras are allowed at the Embassy, we were not able to photograph the experience, but it happened.  I was glad that I had a scarf to wrap around my head because it was like being in a windstorm!
We celebrated our visas with Lay's India's Magic Masala potato chips!  Yum!

We found out this morning that today is ELECTION DAY.  This means that every market, every shop, every store is CLOSED today and we leave for the airport at midnight.  That means we're coming home with basically NO souvenirs!  We are a bit disappointed.  We plan to visit some other historical sites around Delhi instead which are open.  Due to the elections, Delhi is like a ghost town.  There is absolutely NO TRAFFIC.  It is strange!