From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
THE MEN OF MODERN FAMILY

... HOW TO APPRECIATE NATURE

JESSE TYLER FERGUSON & ANNE FERGUSON

JESSE, 34: As a kid I didn't like dirt very much, but my family would push me to enjoy nature. We'd go camping all the time in New Mexico. My mom loves wildflowers, so the first thing we'd always do was pick wildflowers to bring back to the camp to make it more homey.

ANNE, 61: I was very into gardening. They call me the plant whisperer.

JESSE: One time she was like, "Oh, look at that cute flower!" When she bent down to pick it up, it was the little red pompom from her sock.

ANNE: Now our camping days are behind us. I'd rather be pampered!

JESSE: Instead I'll take her to the Getty Gardens in L.A. It's the great outdoors-but a bit more of an upscale version.

... HOW TO GET INTO CHARACTER

ERIC STONESTREET & JAMEY STONESTREET

ERIC, 38: At some point we stopped being mother and son and transitioned to being friends. She loves playing cards, and she won't let me go to bed until she wins. She's a sweet, kind person, but I would put her dirty looks up against anybody!

JAMEY, 65: He's unmerciful! He makes me cry; he makes me laugh.

Eric: Impersonating friends and family members was my acting training. When I got the part of Cameron [on Modern Family], I told my mom, "I based the character on you."

JAMEY: [Tearing up] I'm so happy for him! Eric has taken over for me. I tried out for Flower Drum Song in high school, and all I got to be was an usherette.

ERIC: See? That line will now be in the show someday.

... HOW TO MAKE TORTILLAS

RICO RODRIGUEZ & DIANE RODRIGUEZ

DIANE, 46: Making tortillas together is part of our Hispanic culture. At home in Texas, whenever we have a big family barbecue and all the cousins and grandparents come over, we make them from scratch.

RICO, 11: I just make the dough because my mom wants to protect me from getting burned. It's pretty fun.

DIANE: It's something he can do with his family once he's older and has children of his own.

RICO: I love experimenting with them. I carve faces in the tortillas. Usually we'll make quesadillas with them, but one time we had leftovers, so I asked, "Mom, can I put peanut butter in it?" It looked nasty, but trust me, it was delicious.

DIANE: He likes his creations, but then when it's time to clean up, he's like, "Okay, Mom, I'm done." What a little scoundrel! It's great to want to learn to cook, but you have to learn to clean up afterward too!

... HOW TO BE A GOOD SPORT

TY BURRELL & SHERI BURRELL

SHERI, 71: I always encouraged my [four] kids to try a sport each season. It's important to be part of a team.

TY, 42: My dad considered himself an artist, so in protest he read the arts section at games while my mom was cheering us on. He did it with humor. She was so incredibly enthusiastic.

SHERI: When he decided he wanted to be an actor, he called me from the University of Oregon-he had gone there to be a sports announcer.

TY: You hear consistently that actors' parents want them to get a stable, paying job. My mom said, "Go for it."

SHERI: I knew he'd be good.

TY: I'm already planning on getting my daughter [Frances, 4 months] into sports. We have a similar thing in our household-my wife, Holly [a pastry chef], is incredibly artistic. We joke about who will get to her first. I want to teach her to throw a football so that she can join the NFL.

BEFORE THEY WERE STARS

Even before they were famous, these celebs knew how to keep their mothers smiling

RICO RODRIGUEZ

"When I was a youngling, I was pretty shy," says Rodriguez. "He would always hide behind me," adds mom Diane. "When he got bit by the acting bug, it was a total shock."

TY BURRELL

"Delusionally, I thought I was going to be an athlete," says Burrell, whose parents, Sheri and Gary, supported his hoop dreams. "I wasn't good enough."

JESSE TYLER FERGUSON

"I'd wear several outfits each day," says Ferguson (with mom Anne). "I was always theatrical."

"I got my sense of humor from my mom. She's funny without realizing it"

-JESSE TYLER FERGUSON