One thing we have noted about Canada from time to time is the country's love of paperwork and bureaucracy. There are forms for everything, usually many pages long, and often coming with whole instruction books on how to fill them out.
Not complaining. Much. You can't fight it. It is one of the penalties you pay for living in such a beautiful place so we just learn to slow down and slog through it all.
We had a whole heap to go through with the immigration process, which I'm convinced is a test in its own right designed to deter all but the most committed would-be-immigrants. And there was a load more to cope with in the early days. But just occasionally it still catches us unawares.
One of the things we learned last year was that our Permanent Residents cards expire after five years. No big panic. Now we are landed there's nothing to say we have to renew our cards to continue living here, it's just that you need your card to return to the country if you travel.
Sure, we decided to get started on the renewal process. We started gathering all the information and documents we'd need to submit, got our mugshots taken (professional photographer required, can't use any old passport photo), ordered some of the forms that needed to be originals, not downloadable from the Internet. Time passed, and we were still stepping through the process (all very clearly explained on the Canadian Immigration website - that is one thing they do very well), but not in any great hurry.
Now, just before Christmas, Ali was chatting to a friend of ours who works in one of the local banks, and we decided it would be a good idea to start up a Registered Education Savings Plan for the kids. If we got it started before the end of the year, we'd be able to claim allowances this year from the Government.
So Ali popped in to get things moving. Hiccup one: we needed Social Insurance Numbers for the kids in order to open up an account. We'd got them for ourselves way back when (and it was a very easy process - some things are!) but had never bothered for the children.
So Ali popped downtown to the relevant office. Hiccup two: they needed to see our Permanent Residents Cards. Nope, the old ones (just expired) wouldn't do, they had to be current.
Needless to say, the application, all neatly filled out and only about half an inch thick, is now in the mail.