Cheryl, About 10yrs ago I asked the same question here. Before I tell you what I did and before you start to get advice from people with lots of experience with various tripods than I am, here's a couple of articles for you to read.
The first is by one of the founders of this site JRP, the second is by a well respected Nikon reviewer Thom Hogan. JRP's article will give you a good understanding of what to look for and Thom's will tell you what you shouldn't do. Start with JRP's article..
If you've finished reading those two articles, here's my advice: Get to know your new toys first, shoot a few pictures and deposit few more $$ in your tripod fund in the meantime! Once you've doubled your budget, reconsider