After listening to everyone's advice and weighing all the options, I chose the Nikon D3100. I liked that Nikon was reported to be more user friendly than Canon. I absolutely need user friendly. I also didn't want to spend too little or too much. Something middle of the road was my thinking. This one fit the bill. And I found a pre-Black Friday sale with a magnificent price so I jumped on it. Amaz0n will be shipping it soon. Then I'll just have to figure out how to use it. My brother has promised some lessons.
Laurie asked in the comment section about what luggage I ended up buying. A lot of folks both here and on Rumor Queen were singing the praises of rolling duffels. So that's what I got. The link to my LL Bean large duffel is here. Of course, I chose the pink print fabric. ;) I used it for my Florida vacation and I really liked it. You can fit a ton of stuff inside and it's still pretty lightweight. My only complaint is that it doesn't stand up on it's own. Which is annoying. But not that big of a deal. Especially since it'll be my check in bag. So it's not like I'll be lugging it all over the airport.
Carol - if you're still out there... I might take you up on your offer to borrow yours though. My sister will need something to pack her clothes in. But I still have plenty of time to figure it out. :)
For those of you praying for Christian, the 16 yr old son of a fellow officer who was struck by a car, he's hanging in there. He's had some surgery to start repairing the broken parts of his body. The day after his accident, we heard he had a "severe brain injury" which was very concerning and didn't sound optimistic. But a couple days later it was reported that his neurosurgeon was "impressed" with his progress. We're still not really sure what that means. But just the fact that he's fighting is good news at this point. So thank you for the prayers. They're being heard.