Well, after 2 days of painstakingly looking around the internet and reading hundreds of reviews and comparisons (literally I don't think I've done much else). I finally decided on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35.Buyers Guide for Digital Camera Resource Page, and was originally given the only A+ ranking on the Digital Camera HQ site. (recently they moved the ranking to A- but they say that is only because they are getting harder to find...and they aren't telling a lie!) It was also ranked in the top of super shooters in at least 3 other websites that I found. (I was wanting something a bit more than a compact point and shoot but not as advanced as the dSLRs...besides, the dSLRs are way out of the price range Marion gave me!)
When I compared the specs to some of the other cameras and read dozens of forum reviews and recommendations, it became clear that the FZ35 in comparison to its Cannon counterpart had the edge. Of all the cameras out there, the two that kept coming back to the surface were the Canon Powershot SX210 IS and the FZ35 (though I looked at the Canon Powershot S95 - but it was too high in price for what I could find.) I also looked at the Panasonic Lumix SZ7 (or even the 5) which are a bit smaller, but in comparison of price, I could still get the FZ35 within $50 and thought it had better reviews.
K - I looked at the Canon Elphs Series but the FZ35 ranked higher and had better reviews on the above two sites - at least the ones within the price range that Marion gave me - besides having 3 of the same camera in one family just wouldn't be right...lol!
So, I took the plunge and bought the Lumiz FZ35! It should arrive on Friday, April 1st according to the shipping information (and let's hope that isn't a joke!)