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My kids came up with a great new idea you should try. It doesn't have a name, but it's proved so popular that now my son won't go to bed until we do it.

We sit together, either on the back porch, or (if it's too cold), on the living room couch, cuddled up together under a blanket or two, and turn off all the lights in the whole house. (Even the fish tank light goes dark — I'm sure our betta is confused!)

Then, when it's quiet and dark, we each describe the best part of our day and then say something nice about each other person. That's it. Simple, sincere and very, very moving. Even more special: The children say nice things about each other, which is a great change from their usual behavior of snotty insults and wisecracks.

It doesn't always work. Max is fidgety and wiggly; the dog always wants to be in the middle and she's not really a lap-sized canine. Last night's attempt ended with tears after I made a truly terrible joke. (Why can't I learn to keep my mouth shut?) We've had a lot of changes in our house in the past four months, and everyone's a little on edge.

But usually, it's a beautiful way to wind down the day. Sitting in the dark, with each person saying what's wonderful about their lives and each other, is a fabulous way to bond together as a family. It's not something I've ever experienced before and I love it. Try it and let me know how it works for you.