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Pamper your mom for Mother's Day

What moms really want on Mother’s Day is some peace and quiet, at least according to a very unscientific e-mail survey of mothers I know. The best gift would be a “day off,” says Kathy Georgopoulos of Arlington, Mass., mother of two beautiful daughters Sophie, 4, and Lily, 5 months. A day off “means not getting up to make bottles, feed anyone, wipe any butts, search for the correct video, look for any game board pieces, laugh at any preschool jokes.” But “since you can't buy that online,” she adds, “good substitutes would be: A day of beauty; a massage; a pedicure; a facial; a (full) day at a spa or better yet, an entire weekend — preferably a girls weekend.”

Mona Holtz of Bridgewater, N.J. expressed similar sentiments about her pre-teen son Evan and her husband Arnie. When asked what she really wants for Mother’s Day, Holtz said, “Just for my son and husband to be thoughtful of the day and not do anything that would cause grief or yelling (a typical day).” Her material desires included “a gift certificate for a professional massage,” which she needs because “my boys think five minutes with two fingers works.”

Renew mom's spirits with a spa visit
These days, it’s easy to treat mom to spa treatments. Several Web sites can help locate just the right spa for mom. Hercules, Calif.-based spaindex.com contains information on about 7,500 spas in 39 countries, organized by state or country. A “specials section” points bargain shoppers to current deals, from Super Sample Thursdays — three treatments for $150 — at Inner Spree spa in Brooklyn to an after-spa afternoon tea, “Ya Ya Sisters”-style, at the New Orleans’ Ritz Carlton for only $26. Gift certificates can be purchased directly from most spas listed on the site.

Manhattan-based spafinder.com, which contains information on more than 1,400 spas worldwide, offers gift certificates that can be used at any of the spas listed on the site. The beauty of the “universal gift certificate” is that mom has the freedom to choose which spa and/or treatment she prefers. Gift certificates start at $50 and increase by $25.

Fifty bucks, however, does not buy much time at a spa. It may cover the cost of a pedicure or manicure or both, depending on the spa. Typically, a half day runs about $250 and a full day about $500, says a spafinder.com representative.

Bring the spa home

A less expensive alternative is bringing the spa home to mom. And some of the best spa-like products available now were originally cooked up in the kitchen by women for women. Leslie Ross Lentz concocted her first bath products in the kitchen of her home from ingredients that she grew in her Minneapolis, Minn. garden, bought at farmer's markets or found in specialty shops. In 1982, Lentz founded thymes.com, a small bath and body shop that now sells its products in 5,000 specialty stores nationwide, including Gracious Home in New York, Veronica's Attic in Atlanta, Ga. and Wilshire Beauty Supply in Los Angeles. The complete collection can be found online at thymes.com.

This past summer, thymes.com introduced a line of about 20 spa-like products called “Everyday Essentials,” which can be used on a daily basis without much muss or fuss. The new “treatment-specific” formulations include everything from a face polish, $17 for 4.1 ounces to a multi-action foot care cream, $18 for 4 ounces.

The foot care kit makes an excellent mom’s day gift. After all, it’s not something mom is likely to buy for herself and she was the one who stood on her feet all day making you those homemade meals.

Packaged in a clear plastic carryall, the foot care kit includes three foot pampering products. The restorative foot soak is made of up a blend of Epsom salts. The foot scrub contains real bits of pumice and walnut shells, and helps slough away dry skin and calluses. The multi-action lotion or foot cream not only exfoliates but also moisturizes the skin. The kit sells for $45. When sold separately, the three products cost $52.

Take the $7 you saved and put it toward a foot spa for mom. Drugstore.com carries three models from Homedics, all priced at $46.99. The “rejuvenator” has “8 spinning massage rollers that provide spinning shiatsu massage action.”The “elite” comes with a remote control. And the “bubble spa pro luxury”produces twice the amount of bubbles.

Also, look for foot spas on sale at stores that carry overstocks, such as outpost.com and overstock.com. I found a Conair foot spa  for $19.99 at outpost.com and a Dr. Scholl's premium foot spa for $33.99 reduced from $64.99, at overstock.com.

Soothing solutions for momA relatively new line of luxurious bath and body products can be found at bathbybettijo.com, a small cyber-only shop launched in 2003 by Bettijo Hirschi. Like Lentz of thymes.com, Hirschi, a program analyst for the Department of Defense in Washington, made her first bar of soap in the kitchen of her high-rise apartment in Alexandria, Va. The natural products range from gentle baby oils, $14 for 8 ounces, to tub teas, a mix of herbs and botanicals that sells for $24.

The best bet for mom’s day is the “helping hands gift set.” The $26 kit contains a 2-ounce container of the rich, whipped shea butter, known for its healing properties. Shea butter is extracted from a nut on the Mangifolia or Shea Nut Tree, commonly found in central Africa. Bettijo imports the shea butter used in her products from a village in Ghana, where no chemicals are used in the extraction process.

The helping hands kit, which comes in lavender cedar or lemon almond scents, also contains of a 3.25 ounce bar of handmade soap and a pair of cotton gloves. Treat the hands with the whipped shea butter and then cover them with gloves. For the most enriching experience, leave the gloves on overnight.

The personal touchGrandma’s influence has always been at work at elizabethw.com, a small shop founded by architect Albert Nichols who named the business after his great grandmother Elizabeth Wightman, a rancher in the 1800s in the Sierra Nevadas in California. The San Francisco-based shop carries a distinct line of bath and body products, which are all made on-site in a 3,000-square-foot workshop.

Unusual gifts for mom include the bath pouches made of wash-cloth material and filled with scented sea salts. Bath pouches come in 12 scents and are sold individually for $9, for in a set of three for $26. The gift pack comes in an elegant gray box with a greenish gray ribbon.

But any combination of products can be packaged and wrapped as a gift in a white box with a ribbon tie, says Michael Lindsay, a company owner. When you place the order, just let them know it’s a gift, says Lindsay.

An example of a nice gift pack is the lavender spa set featured online. The set, priced at $76, contains three bath pouches, soap, bath oil and a candle.

Not all moms want peace and quiet on Mother’s Day. Apparently, after the kids leave the nest, they are missed. “Since my kids are so far away, even if they send me a card of flowers, I still want a phone call, so I can hear their voices,” says Lisa Lazarro of Tampa, Fla., whose daughter Morgan lives in Colorado and son Colin goes to school in Montana. “I guess it's the really personal and sentimental stuff that means the most to me on Mother's Day, and I think as I get older and I see my kids less and less, the sentimental stuff means even more to me,” says Lazarro, who despite many moves in her adult life says she saved a mache rose her son made her when he was in the second grade.

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