Stephanie Cristofanelli of Augusta, GA
Most valued form of character:
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and where are you now?
A: My name is Stephanie Campbell Cristofanelli. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia but moved to Annapolis, Maryland when I was three. My father opened the first Chick-Fil-A restaurant at the Annapolis Mall. We lived there for ten years and then moved back to Roswell, Georgia when I was thirteen. I went to college at Samford University and then graduate school at Georgia State University. My family and I currently live in Evans, Georgia.
Q: How did you meet and fall in love with your husband?
A: My husband and I met when we were 16! He thought he was hot stuff back then and I guess I agreed, cause I fell for him immediately. Our first real interaction was on our parents Sunday School outing to Callaway Gardens during Christmas of 1993. For some reason, I found being attacked with a magic marker and having a chewed tooth pick stuck in my mashed potatoes attractive, but that is really where our story began! We somehow managed to stay together through different high schools, different colleges, and different family issues. Occasionally we look at each other with disbelief and wonder that not only are we married, but that we have a life filled with two beautiful girls and so many countless blessings. After 19 years of being together, I can honestly say that I married my best friend!
Q: What about those gorgeous babies??? Tell us all about them.
A: I have two amazing and unique little girls. My oldest, Caroline, is 5. She is the typical first born: type A personality, rule follower, inquisitive but cautious, exceptionally creative yet incredibly intelligent, sensitive and empathetic. She loves all things daddy, her sister, and her friends, art, soccer, ballet, gymnastics, books, and now Kindergarten! My three year old, Katherine, is a firecracker! She is funny, witty, and I believe already smarter than her parents! She is strong in both will and in conviction, but is so tender-hearted and loving that you quickly forgive the other. She loves dancing, coloring, reading, and special treats! They both bring endless love and joy into my life!
Q: What did you do in your previous life? Pre-Matilda Jane?
A: Before becoming a full-time mommy, I worked as a school psychologist in Aiken, South Carolina. It was a very rewarding job that was accompanied with the emotional highs and lows one can experience when working with children, families, and a school system. Up until last year I worked as a contract school psychologist for the county, but have since taken some time off from that profession to focus on other priorities and interests.
Q: How did Matilda Jane find YOU?
A: Matilda Jane found me through one of my best friends and photographer, Anna Beth Brooks. She fell in love with the clothes as a result of her sister-in-law and decided to host a show. Once I saw the clothes, I was cast under the spell too and quickly became part of the obsession known as Matilda Jane! The irony of the situation was that she was going to be a TK, not me! But, here I am and I am loving every minute of it!
Q: Who on this earth has been the number one influence in your life?
A: Oh my goodness, I have been so blessed to have such amazing people in my life that it is hard to qualify one person as being the most influential. My mom, my husband, my grandparents, and my friends have all had a major impact on my life; however, if I had to choose one person, it would probably be my father. He somehow managed to be my friend, my teacher, my mentor, my confidant, my favorite date, my coach, and my biggest fan, while commanding respect and a little bit of fear! I asked him one day how he thought I could foster the same kind of relationship with my children and his response seemed so simple. “It’s easy,” he said, ” it’s about the relationship; listen to them.” Although I fail as a parent everyday, I try to live by this advice and set aside the busyness of a long day for some real quality one-on-one time.
Q: What are 5 words your friends would use to describe you?
A: Well, after polling 10 of my closest friends, I took the top five best answers! Haha! Loyal, tenacious, confident, fun, and generous. Someone also said smart-butt, but that’s not true at all!
Q: Besides your family, what are you most passionate about?
A: I am passionate about design and event planning! The two really go hand in hand and every November I get to do both! My husband and I are involved in an adoption ministry known as Reaching Hands. We help, along with several other close friends, put on a live and silent auction to help raise money for families in need of grants for their personal adoptions. This is our 5th year organizing the event! We are already in full swing getting ready for the fast approaching November 8th date! It’s been amazing to see this event from its conception to what it is today. Last year we raised about $35,000. We are hoping this year will be our best one yet!
Q: Chocolate or Vanilla?
A: Vanilla every time!
Q: Are you a dreamer or a realist?
A: A realist verging on a pessimist! I would rather think the worst and then be surprised by the best!
Q: Crazy or not, what is one dream that you would most like to make come true?
A: One dream I would like to make come true would be to one day have a beach house in the South of France. It is one of my favorite places in the world!
Q: If you were gifted $1 million to donate to any charity or organization, which one would you choose? Why?
A: If I were gifted one million dollars, I would, without a shadow of a doubt, donate the money to cancer research. There is not a person I know who has not been impacted by this insidious disease; just in the last five years, my mother, two aunts, my grandmother, my grandfather, my best friend, my best friend’s mother and several other important people in my life have all battled cancer. I would love nothing more than for it to be eradicated!
Q: If you could crawl into the pages of any book, what would it be and why?
A: I love the written language and I love to read! I think I am mostly in awe of the way authors choose to pen their stories. The best books are the ones you become so emotionally entangled in, that the mere thought of putting the book down is torture. There are many books that I would love to crawl into the pages of, but I believe if I had to choose one book it would be the witty, adventurous and romantic tale of Anne of Green Gables. My first experience with this charmer was watching it on PBS with my parents. I immediately wanted to be Anne’s best friend and to fall in love with Gilbert Blythe! I later read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series and fell in love all over again! I still plan to visit Prince Edward Island one day.
Q: Are you a country mouse or city mouse?
A: Tough question! My immediate response is a city mouse because I love shopping, eating at great foody restaurants, going to shows, and more shopping. However, the older I get, there is something in me that longs for the speed of the country, acres of land, a big ole house with a sweeping front porch, and a garden in the back yard!
Q: If you could have Denise design ANY item for Matilda Jane, what would that be and why?
A: I would actually like to have a men’s tie collection. With all the amazing fabrics and patterns, I think it would be fabulous to have some coordinating pieces for my husband!
Q: Lastly, in the spirit of Character Counts, what in your opinion is the most important form of character?
A: Integrity! That is what I believe to be one of the most important forms of character. One of the hardest choices to make in this life is to stand firm in your faith, to let your moral compass be your guide and to let your actions echo your words. But if you somehow muster up enough courage to live a life of integrity, leaving no room for hypocrisy, you will influence the people around you in such an way that they will wonder why you are different and will seek to have what you have. Our motto in our house these days is, “Let your light shine!” My hope is that my family will be seen as having integrity; living out our faith not just giving lip service to it!