Ava Parker was too busy to attend the 1992 lottery drawing. With eight children, she was at home measuring the young ones for school clothes and getting ready to sew.

So lottery director Lynn C. French delivered the news in person that night.

"We were ecstatic," remembered Parker, an assistant principal at the Academy for Ideal Education on Gallatin Street NW, of the late-night visit. "I thought she was someone who had gotten my mail by mistake. . . . But she said, 'No, you won a house.' "

Parker and husband Timothy, who now works in maintenance for the D.C. Housing Authority, have children ranging in age from 7 to 29. Because the renovation took three years, the two oldest girls had married before the family moved into the three-bedroom bungalow at 2609 Monroe St. NE in Woodridge.

Though space is still tight, Ava Parker said the family has always made living arrangements work. They had been renting a house in Southeast before the lottery.

They also figured out how to renovate the house to code using only the city's $10,000 interest-free loan. The house was in generally good shape, except for the porch and the heating, plumbing and mechanical systems, she said. Timothy Parker served as the general contractor, doing some work himself and getting help from friends who were working in construction with him at the time.

"This was a true homestead because he did so much sweat equity himself," French said.

The house was assessed at $82,996 in 1998.

Because the lottery's five-year residency requirement has passed, the Parkers could move on if they want. But, as the pragmatic Ava Parker noted: "Everybody's leaving home now, so why go anywhere?"

CAPTION: The Parker family renovated the house on Monroe St. NE in Woodridge using only the city's $10,000 interest-free loan.