Welcome to TFP! Man, you have came to the right place.
TFP goal is to help people learn how to maintain their pool using scientifically proven methods.
Unlike the Pool Stores, no one here wants to sell you anything, and all of the knowledge here is available to you for free.
I can start you off with a couple of recommendations.
First, get yourself a reliable and good test kit. Dont leave your pool water quality and your enjoyment of the pool up the likes of the pool store. The pool store is there to sell you stuff, whether you need it or not.
There are 2 kits recommended by TFP. The TF100 with the option of XL and the Taylor K2006. The TF 100 is the best bang for your buck, as you $ for $, you can perform more tests with it than you can with the K2006. Here is a link to where you can get one. Alot of folks here also like that gadget called a speed stir, but its certainly not a necessity to properly test the water. http://tftestkits.net/splash-page.html
My next recommendation, is to click the big Pool School button at the top of the page. Start with the ABC's of pool chemistry.. and go from there. Pool School contains TONS of info that can answer a lot of questions. Obvously no one here expects you to learn it all instantly, so please feel comfortable in asking any quesitons you might have and no doubt, you will some awesome replies.